How to make small talk in English?
By Jake Smith
It is normal to feel a bit shy when trying to start a small talk in your second language. However, it is important to remember that making small talk is one of the main ways of building relationships with other people in new countries and also improve your speaking and listening skills at the same time. Besides, there are occasions when it is sometimes considered uncomfortable or rude to say nothing. Below are some useful conversation starters and examples to help you to develop your small talk skills – learn and use them appropriately and you will be surprised at how small talk can make a big difference in your everyday life.
Read also British phrases that will make you sound like a native and 5 ways to learn English outside the classroom
The first sentence you say to someone isn’t as hard as you might think, as long as you are polite and friendly you can say any of the lines below (in context) and usually start a pleasant conversation with someone new. The hardest part is having the confidence and courage to ignore the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ rule from your childhood and just go for it!
- Beautiful day, isn’t it?
- It looks like it’s going to snow, don’t you think?
- I hear that there are thunderstorms this weekend.
- Did you catch the news today? Did you hear about [relevant news story]?
- Do you think [sports team] will win tonight?
- What do you think about the new shopping centre?
- What languages do you know how to speak?
- Have you ever lived in another country?
- How does living here compare to life in your country?
Waiting for something:
- I didn’t think it would be as busy as this today.
- How long have you been waiting?
- It looks like the bus is running late.
At a social event:
- Are you enjoying the party?
- How do you know [mutual friend’s name].
- I love your outfit! Can I ask where you got it?
Small talk conversation example:
- Waiting for a train
Person 1: How long have you been waiting?
Person 2: I’ve been here for at least 20 minutes now. The train is delayed, unfortunately.
Person 1: Oh dear! Do you know how long the delay is?
Person 2: I think it’s expected at three o’clock, I hope you are not in a rush!
Person 1: I’m definitely going to be late! Oh well, I’m glad I brought a book with me to read.
Person 2: Oh yes, I love reading. Romantic novels are my favourite.
Person 1: Really? Me too! Have you read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin?
Person 2: I haven’t actually, I know it is a classic.
Person 1: I think you will love it. I couldn’t put the book down when I first read it.
Person 2: That’s the best kind of book. Oh look, our train is here!
Person 1: Oh brilliant, well have a nice day. Bye!
Person 2: You too, take care! Bye.
2. ‘Mingling’ at a party
Person 1: Are you enjoying the party?
Person 2: Yes, thanks. The food was delicious! Are you having a good time?
Person 1: Yes, it’s all been great. I only wish I could have more of the chocolate dessert!
Person 2: Oh me too! So how do you know Michael?
Person 1: Michael and I go way back, we were at school together actually. How about you?
Person 2: I met Michael last year at work, we became friends almost straight away. He’s a great guy.
Person 1: He really is! He loves a party. Have you seen him recently? I need to give him his present.
Person 2: He certainly does! I haven’t seen him for a while, to be honest. The last time I saw him he was at the bar.
Person 1: Ok thank you, I’ll try and find him there! Enjoy the rest of the night, it was great to meet you!
Person 2: Good luck! Yes, you too. See you!
Person 1: Bye!
It is always better to make a few mistakes when speaking to someone than to say absolutely nothing! 🙂
Also related How to answer job interview questions and How to write a CV and Get a Job Interview
Also, our English tips video will help you to start a small talk in English!
Prepositions of place let us know the location of something and how to find it, but lot’s of these words can be used in other different ways!
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