By the way, did you want tickets for the match on Saturday? Conversational expressions

by Kate Woodford

conversationLearners of English often want to know expressions which they can use to manage their conversations – words and phrases that, for example, connect ideas or introduce new ideas. Some of these expressions do not appear in dictionaries so we thought it might be helpful to take a look at this area here.

A conversation between two or more people usually focuses for a certain amount of time on one topic so when a speaker wants to start a new topic, they often use a phrase to introduce it. By the way is probably the most common way of doing this:

A: I’m really looking forward to your party.

B: Good – so am I. My brother will be there so I’ll introduce you.

A: Yeah, please do. Oh, by the way, are you seeing Sophie next Wednesday?

Another way to introduce a subject that is not directly related to what you have been talking about is the phrase while I think of it. ‘While I think of it’ says that you are going to mention a new topic that you have just thought about. That topic may be slightly – or not at all – related to what was being said before:

A: So we’re booked into the hotel on Saturday night.

B: Great – thanks for doing that. Oh, while I think of it, do you have Jamie’s mobile phone number?

A more formal way of introducing a new (or slightly related) topic is incidentally:

A: We really need more staff.

B: Yes, you’re right. Incidentally, when are we due to meet Ethan?

Sometimes, we want to return to a subject that we mentioned earlier in the same conversation – perhaps we have just had an idea about it. Useful phrases here are thinking about what you said earlier or going back to what you said earlier:

Just going back to what you said earlier about Phoebe, I wonder if it would help if Emma spoke to her?

Often, we want to talk about a subject that is related to the one that we have been talking about, but that takes us in a slightly different direction. To do this, we might say Speaking of/Talking of… or While we’re on the subject of . . .:

A: We had a fantastic meal there – one of the best I’ve ever had.

B: Really? I must go there sometime. Speaking of restaurants/While we’re on the subject of restaurants, have you tried out the new one on Green Street yet?

Finally, we may want to refer briefly to something that we said earlier in the conversation. As I say, As I was saying or As I was telling Esther/Paul are often used here:

A: So did you see much of Oregon while you were there?

B: Well, as I say, I was mainly there to see my family, so not really.

The next time you have a conversation in English, try to use some of these phrases.

15 thoughts on “By the way, did you want tickets for the match on Saturday? Conversational expressions

  1. Investidor007

    Thanks about this article. I’m from Brazil and I’m need practice my english every day, but some kinds of expressions is really hard for us, I will follow up this blog…Thanks.

  2. Sarfaraz Ahmad

    It is too good to learn phrases for using while having conversation in English but I am in need to upgrade the writing skills, kindly let me know how it will be possible for me.

  3. Sammie

    can you teach us the rudiments of other speech usage in the special occasion like “the revolutions of 2016 like Ms. Liz blogged earlier or how to answer the job interviewer. i think its useful when i have to use them with customers at work. Don’t you think its the brilliant idea because we can really apply that in the daily conversation or at workplaces? I am the big fan of your blog. Your other blogs are really useful, to say to say the least.

  4. Md Shoriful Islam

    Really nice that one you have described how to use some of those phrases. I am so little, but I can pray to almighty for you.

    Md Shoriful Islam
    Xinxian Restaurant
    Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  5. Miho

    I love to learn linguistic trivia, and am a fan of your blog. By the way (!), what is “Esther/Paul” in the description?

  6. Lewis Li

    Hi, Kate. I have a question for you.
    For the last example you gave above, should we say “B: Well, as I said, I was mainly there to see my family, so not really.” instead?
    In this context, which is correct, “as I say” or “as I said”?
    Thank you.

  7. Pingback: Phrases and pragmatics | ELT Infodump

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