Readers of this blog often ask us for conversational English. They want to learn phrases for chatting informally with friends and colleagues. To help with this, some of our blog posts focus on the sort of conversations that we all have during the course of a day or a week. In this post, we’re looking at what you can say on a Monday when someone asks ‘How was your weekend?’ Continue reading “Did you have a nice weekend? (Chatting about the weekend)”
Going forward, sooner or later (Expressions to talk about the future)
This post takes a look at a group of phrases that we use when we talk about the future.
Some of the phrases that we use when we talk about our future plans and ideas simply mean ‘at some time in the future’, (without mentioning a particular time), for example at some point: At some point, we’ll look into buying a new laptop. Continue reading “Going forward, sooner or later (Expressions to talk about the future)”
Hurling insults and hazarding a guess: ways to talk about communication
by Liz Walter
Last month I wrote about the importance of collocations (word partners) for making your English fluent and natural. In this post I am going to concentrate on collocations connected with a very basic topic – communicating.
A major reason to learn good collocations is to avoid using common words too much. So while it’s fine to say that someone ‘starts’ or ‘has’ a conversation, it would be much more impressive to use the collocations strike up a conversation or hold a conversation:
She struck up a conversation with one of the other passengers.
I know enough French to be able to hold a conversation. Continue reading “Hurling insults and hazarding a guess: ways to talk about communication”
I’m hoping to become a vet: talking about our future lives
by Liz Walter
It is common to ask young people about their hopes and plans for the future. This post looks at some words and phrases you can use to respond to such questions.
We often use the general phrases I’m hoping/planning to … or I’d like to … :
I’m hoping to become a vet.
I’d like to live abroad for a few years.
Continue reading “I’m hoping to become a vet: talking about our future lives”
What time is it?: How to say the time
by Liz Walter
Talking about time is a very basic skill, but one that can often cause problems, especially if your main language thinks about time in a different way.
Firstly, if you want to know the time, what question do you need to ask? Well, if you are sure that the person you are asking knows the answer, you can simply say: What time is it? or What’s the time? (this is less common in US English). However, if you are not sure if they know, for example if you want to ask a stranger on a train or in the street, you can say: Excuse me, do you have the time, please? or (in UK English) Have you got the time, please?
How was your day? (Phrases for asking about someone’s day)
On one thread of this blog we look at the words and phrases that people use in daily conversation in particular situations. This week, we’re considering the things that we say – especially the questions that we ask – when we see someone we know well at the end of a day at work, college or school, etc.
We often start by showing polite interest in what a person has done by asking the question How was your day?, How has your day been? or Did you have a good day? Continue reading “How was your day? (Phrases for asking about someone’s day)”
A visitor to this website recently asked for the sort of phrases he might use when introducing himself to people, for example in an English class. We thought we would write a blog post on the subject.
Starting with the most important piece of information, we could say ‘I’m Maria Gonzalez.’ or ‘My name is Maria Gonzalez.’ If we want to say how old we are, we simply say ‘I’m twenty-three.’ or ‘I’m twenty-three years old.’ Then we might say, for example, ‘I’m Spanish.’ or ‘I’m from Spain.’ To give more detail about where we live, we could say ‘I’m from Valencia in Spain.’ or even ‘I’m from Valencia, on the east coast of Spain.’ Continue reading “Introducing yourself”
I think you should apologise: giving advice and making suggestions
by Liz Walter
We all have times when we want to give advice to someone or to make a suggestion about something they could do to solve a problem. However, it’s not always easy to do that without giving offence, so this post looks at a range of language you could use in this situation.
The most obvious words to use for giving advice are the modal verbs should and ought to:
You ought to eat more vegetables.
You shouldn’t be so rude to your parents. Continue reading “I think you should apologise: giving advice and making suggestions”
What a nightmare! (Words for difficult situations)
Whether we like it or not, we all have to deal with things that annoy us or cause difficulties and stress. Sadly, it is part of life. This post won’t stop you from having to deal with these things, but it will at least give you a range of words and phrases for talking about them in English!
Let’s start with some single words that refer to different types of problem. A predicament is a bad situation that is difficult to get out of: She’s trying to find a way out of her financial predicament.
A dilemma is a situation in which you have to make a difficult choice between two different things: Now he has been offered the other job, which puts him in a bit of a dilemma. Continue reading “What a nightmare! (Words for difficult situations)”
Turning over a new leaf: idioms and phrases for the New Year
by Liz Walter
New Year is a time when we often take stock of our life (think about what is good or bad about it). We may feel that we should draw a line under the past (finish with it and forget about it) and make a fresh start. This post looks at idioms and other phrases connected with this phenomenon.
If we decide to stop doing something we consider to be bad and to start behaving in a better way, we can say that we are going to turn over a new leaf. We might decide to kick a habit such as smoking (stop doing it), have a crack at (try) a new hobby, or even leave a dead-end job (one with no chance of promotion) or finish a relationship that isn’t going anywhere. Continue reading “Turning over a new leaf: idioms and phrases for the New Year”