What to say when… asking for other people's opinion

So what do you say when you're asking for other people's opinions?

Well quite simply, you could ask:
1. Do you agree?

Very basic. It's quite closed that question, so what about if you opened up that question to get a more interesting answer?

2. What do you think about that?
3. What's your opinion?
4. How do you feel about it?

If you want to make it a little more polite, you might say:

5. I'd like to hear your thoughts on that…
6. I'm interested to hear your opinion about this…

And more formally, maybe if you were at a meeting at work, you know you might ask

7. Would you like to add anything?

And this is just, you know, a nice sort of polite way of inviting other people into the conversation to share their opinion.

What to say when… you want to interrupt

So what about what to say when you want to interrupt? When someone else is talking and you want to interrupt them.

Well there are definitely ways to do it rudely but of course, there are many ways to do it politely as well. Sometimes you have to interrupt in conversations. So of course, you could say:

8. Sorry
9. Excuse me – is a little more polite

And then you can actually lead straight on with your different idea or your opinion there.

Sorry I thought our meeting was on Thursday next week, not Wednesday.

You know, it's just a little brief interjection to help you share a different opinion or a different thought. Now you can informally interrupt someone to add an idea to a conversation by saying

10. Do you mind if I add to that?
11. Can I jump in here?
And that literally means can I jump into the conversation right now at this point. I've got something to share. I want to say it.

Now there are some more polite ways to express this as well. You might say

12. Sorry to interrupt but… (I've got something to say)
13. Sorry for interrupting

Now there's not a lot of difference between those two. I would just say that “Sorry to interrupt” is probably used more when you're speaking directly to the person that you're interrupting and then maybe if you're stepping into a room full of people talking, a meeting room or something like that, then you might say “Sorry for interrupting, I just needed to share something with you.”

Now to go even more formal than that, perhaps if you're working in a hotel and you need to interrupt a customer, you might say:

14. Sorry, may I interrupt you for just a moment?
15. If I may interrupt you for a minute… (I'd like to share something with you)

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Okay. Where was I?

That was a good example of what to say when you've gone off topic.

What to say when… you have gone off topic

If you go off topic, it means that you started talking about something, so for example apples, but while you were talking you started to talk about something else, you know, maybe you got distracted or you got excited and went off telling a different story. Or even the other person that you're talking to has gone off topic and you're thinking “How on earth did we end up talking about potatoes?”

You've got to get your conversation back on track right? And it really is just that simple shift in the conversation. So here's how to do it.

16. So anyway, getting back to my story..
17. As I was saying…
18. Where was I? Ah yes…

You can also combine some of these expressions together.

So anyway, where were we? Ah yes… You were talking about apples!

What to say when… you think you understood but you need to double-check.

These are really important expressions to learn, to help you as you're listening so that you can feel more confident about your answers, you know, when you're answering someone else's question, this is just a little check to make sure you're answering it accurately.

So if you didn't quite hear perfectly, you could say:

19. So what you're asking is…
And then repeat back what you heard.

20. So, what you want to know is…
And then repeat.

21. Do you mean?
And then paraphrase what you heard or you could say

22. In other words, what you're saying is…

And this is a really natural part of conversation. Native speakers are not gonna care if you ask them to confirm what they said because it just makes it much easier to continue the conversation, right?

If you're working in customer service, maybe at a hotel or at a restaurant or something like that then using the verb ‘confirm' is a little moreformal. You might say:

23. I'd like to confirm what you said…
24. Excuse me, can I just confirm that/what you said…

Naturally, we agree and we disagree with people all of the time right and there are so many different ways to do this in English. Agreeing is pretty simple right, you can just say:

25. Yes! Absolutely!
to say that you agree.

26. I completely agree with you!

And we have this really fantastic expression which is…

27. I couldn't agree more

I couldn't possibly agree more. I really strongly agree with you.

What to say… somewhat disagree

But what to say to somewhat disagree? Now all of these examples are ways to say that you accept some of the ideas that the other person has shared but you don't completely agree with them.

Okay so you might say

28. I see what you mean but…
And then express, you know, a different opinion.

29. I understand your point of view but…
30. I can see where you're coming from but…
31. I agree with you up to a point, however… (I've got a different opinion)

What to say to… disagree

So then what to say when you disagree completely?

32. I don't feel the same way.
33. Actually, I don't quite agree or I disagree.
34. I'm afraid I don't agree with you on that / about that

Now this is quite an interesting English expression, “I'm afraid”. We use it when we're trying to make a statement more polite not just to say that we're worried or we're scared.

I'm afraid I can't help you.
I'm afraid we've run out of sausages.

So it's just a way of making those statements a little more polite and you can do the same thing when you're disagreeing.

I'm afraid I don't agree with you.

So to be quite formal when you disagree, then try to add a word like ‘respectfully'

35. Respectfully, I have to disagree.

And then if you feel like your conversation isn't going anywhere, maybe there's a bit of tension, people are getting frustrated and annoyed and you want to change the topic.

36. Well, we'll have to agree to disagree then!

It's a way to end the discussion, especially when it's getting a little heated and change the topic a little.

Now of course in English, you can be quite rude with your body language when you're disagreeing with someone. So in formal situations or when you want to be really polite, try to be aware of what your body is doing. So avoid shaking your head or rolling your eyes or sighing. You know? Unless you really want that other person to see that you're frustrated or you're annoyed with them.

What to say to… change the topic

Speaking of changing the topic, what do you say when you want to do that in English? What to say to change the topic? Now this is useful.

You might want to change the topic for a few different reasons. It could be as simple as you've run out of things to say about the topic. So instead of ending the conversation, you can simply change the topic and change direction.

37. That reminds me…
38. Speaking about / speaking of that…

You know this is a really useful expression or a way of you know kind of linking two ideas in a conversation.

Speaking about your holiday to Greece, did I tell you that I've got a trip planned later in the year?

But maybe you just want to introduce something completely different. So then you could try

39. Oh, by the way… (did I tell you about this?)
40. Oh, while I remember…
41. Before I forget… (I've got something I want to say)
42. This has nothing to do with what we're talking about but… (I've got to share it anyway)
43. I know this is completely changing the topic but… (I've got to tell you)

What to say when… you are talking about a controversial topic

Now this is more advanced conversation skills but maybe you want to talk about politics, religion, social issues. I quite enjoy learning about religion, social issues. I quite enjoy learning about but I know that my views will not always be the same as everyone else's.

But that doesn't mean that you need to avoid it, right? You just need a few tools and a few tips to help you keep the conversation open and positive.

So when you're introducing an idea that you feel like not everyone's going to agree with then you could try saying

44. I know not everyone agrees with me… (but this is what I think)
45. I know this is a contentious issue.

Contentious. And then go in to explain.

46. It might be an unpopular opinion but I strongly believe…
47. I don't see eye to eye with everyone on this matter, but I think it's really important to discuss this.
48. Whilst you may not agree with my views, I'm definitely interested in hearing yours.
49. I'm not trying to ruffle anyone's feathers here.

This is a fun little idiom to say I'm not trying to make anyone upset or angry, you know, I'm just sharing a different opinion. I'm not intending to ruffle anyone's feathers.

What to say when… you want to end a conversation

So having one of these simple expressions on hand will help you to politely end a conversation and move on. Right we don't want to get stuck in a conversation.

50. Well, I'd best be off! It's been great chatting.
51. Anyway, I'd better get back to it. I better get back to work.
52. I'm so glad I ran into you. It's been great catching up. I'll see you soon.

So there you have it! That was over fifty common phrases to help you have more advanced English conversations and help you to maintain those conversations even longer.

Now all of these tools are ones that native English speakers use all the time in conversations. So listen out for them in movies and podcasts. Try to hear them in context. Now definitely don't try and learn all of them at once, okay not all fifty phrases at once but definitely choose a couple of them from each category and really start to get familiar with them and how to use them.

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