In this English lesson, I'm teaching you advanced English phrases so you feel confident speaking in English conversations! [Download Lesson Workbook ⬇️]
Visit https://www.heylady.io to find out more about my English-speaking community for women!
Download the workbook I created for you here: https://learn.mmmenglish.com/advancedphrases
It includes all the phrases from the lesson + activities to help you remember them!
In this English lesson, you will learn what to say in English conversations:
– when you feel nervous
– when the conversation is difficult
– when someone misunderstands you
– when the conversation gets uncomfortable because you are talking about
– controversial topics – when you want to avoid speaking about them
Read the full transcript of this lesson on my blog here:
———- TIMESTAMPS ———-
00:00 – INTRO
01:05 – Join Hey Lady!
01:40 – When you feel Nervous
06:48 – Difficult conversations
09:20 – Misunderstandings
11:00 – Sensitive Issues
15:46 – Controversial Topics
CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.
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I'm going to be sharing the exact phrases and expressions that you need to help you when you get a little stuck in English conversations like when you feel a little nervous and those times when the conversation is a bit difficult to follow, when someone misunderstands you or when someone asks you a question or is talking about a topic that you want to avoid.
So get your pen and your notebook ready. There are plenty of useful phrases for you to write down, to help you speak confidently in English conversations.
Plus I've also made you a free workbook that goes with this lesson, you can download it. The link is right down there in the description. Go grab it now and then let's get into the lesson!
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Come and visit us at heylady.io and discover the English-speaking version of you today.
You feel nervous
Let's all agree that speaking in front of people or meeting a group of people for the first time can make you feel a little nervous, can't it?
Sometimes it's hard enough to think of just the words to say, let alone the expressions that you need to get yourself out of trouble. Have you ever been in a situation like this?
Where you've just felt frozen? Well memorising some of the expressions from this lesson today will definitely help and my first piece of advice is to just be honest. Say:
1. I'm a little nervous.
You can say it with a little grin to make a joke out of it or you can say it sincerely just to let the people know who you're talking to that maybe you need a little bit of extra support.
There is nothing wrong with that at all, it happens much more often than you think. It's not just you, it's all of us.
2. Bear with me.
If you're speaking in front of a group of people and maybe you're feeling a little anxious about it, you can definitely use this phrase to ask people to be patient with you just to buy yourself a little bit more time.
And another similar expression is:
3. Give me a moment.
Let me try that again. It's a really great one if you need to stop and to think about your sentence for a minute and maybe rephrase it, maybe your sentence came out a little wrong or you just realised you're speaking so fast you need to take a breath, say this phrase, smile and try it again.
4. I'm not sure about that actually but I can find out.
It can be really nerve-wracking when someone asks you a question that you don't know the answer to especially if it's in a professional context. You might just freeze and have no idea what to say but there is an easy solution and that's this phrase right here.
5. It's on the tip of my tongue.
This is a great phrase for when you actually do know something but you just can't remember it right in that moment.
6. I had something I wanted to say but I've lost it. Hopefully, it'll come back.
Have you ever been in a meeting or a conversation where you're listening to other people and then when it's your turn to speak, your mind goes completely blank? You've forgotten what you were going to contribute. It happens to me more than I care to admit and it can be really frustrating.
It can feel embarrassing if you're being harsh to yourself but you can play it cool with this phrase right here.
7. Do you mind if I jump in?
Maybe the idea of interrupting someone when you've got something to say also makes you feel a little nervous or a little awkward so a very cool casual way of doing this and very often used in professional context as well is to use the verb jump in.
What if you're asking a question and you're not sure if it's appropriate or acceptable to ask that question?
This can sometimes happen when you're talking to someone from a different culture. Is it okay to talk about marriage? Is it okay to ask their age? Sometimes it can be a little tricky to know.
In English, you can preface this question with a phrase that helps to soften it.
8. I hope you don't mind me asking but…
then insert the question.
- I hope you don't mind me asking but how old are you?
Oh gosh, what about when you forget something that you know you shouldn't have forgotten?
9. My apologies, I've completely forgotten your name.
I'm so sorry I've completely forgotten what we were talking about.
All right so this is a different type of nervous energy. I hate this feeling, it's that feeling of seeing someone walk towards you and realising that you can't remember their name. You've met them so many times before.
What is it? It's much better although a little awkward, it's much better to ask them sooner rather than later and just get it out of the way particularly so you can say it, repeat it a few times and try to remember it.
Makes it easier to remember next time. Apparently, it's three times, when you find out what their name is, three times you need to say their name in order to remember it next time.
- Hi John, nice to see you again! Lovely to have you.
- John! Tell me about your kids.
- Well John it was really lovely to see you. All right, bye now!
It's difficult to follow
So what about when the conversation is just kind of hard for some reason. Maybe it's hard to keep up or hard to follow what's happening.
Or if you're in a conversation with a bunch of native English speakers or advanced English users then they might be speaking really quickly and those words that you can't fully hear or words you don't recognise and you just feel like you're in over your head.
So in these situations, you can politely and confidently say that you don't understand what they've said.
10. I have to admit this is a little beyond me.
With this expression, you're really putting an end to the discussion. You're not asking for them to clarify, you're saying it's too much, this conversation, for me.
11. I can't follow along. Let's end it, okay?
Which sounds kind of serious so that's the extreme. Let's end the conversation. But come back from there and we can say:
11. Sorry, I'm afraid, I don't follow you.
With “I don't follow you” you're suggesting that you need them to re-explain or to explain it in a different way.
12. Could you please say that a little slower?
13. I'm not entirely sure what you mean, could you explain it again?
14. Sorry! That went straight over my head.
Could you explain it in a different way?
If someone asks for your opinion about a topic and you don't actually feel able to talk about it in English then you could say:
15. It's interesting listening to you talk, but to be honest… I don't know much about this topic.
16. Wow I've never really thought about this much before but I'm enjoying listening to you talk about it.
17. I'm not well-versed on this topic so I'd rather hold off on saying anything until I know a bit more.
18. I don't know enough about this topic to fully contribute to this discussion.
19. It's pretty hard to express my ideas about this topic in English but I'll try my best.
I love this one, make sure you write it down.
You're being really honest but you're also taking a deep breath and going for it, you're taking the opportunity to participate even though you're doubting yourself.
Let's have a look at some phrases for when there's been a misunderstanding and these are really useful to help provide clarity, those times when you need to re-explain something or say it in a different way to clear up confusion.
20. I think you may have misunderstood what I said.
21. I didn't mean to say that. What I meant was… and then explain it in a different way.
22. I'm sorry for the confusion. What I actually meant was…
23. I'm so sorry, my message must have got lost in translation. Let me explain again.
24. I think we've got our wires crossed.
There were a couple of really great idioms there. Did you catch them?
Really good ones for helping to clear up misunderstandings. Now misunderstandings are generally pretty harmless but what if you've unintentionally upset someone?
Don't worry, this happens more often than you think but apologising as soon as you realise and then clarifying what you actually meant will usually help.
And on the plus side, I've got some really useful phrases that you can use when you want to apologise and explain a misunderstanding.
25. You seem upset. Did I say something wrong?
26. That definitely didn't come out right. I'm so sorry.
27. I can completely understand why you're hurt and I'm deeply sorry for what I said.
28. I'm sorry for hurting your feelings. I didn't intend it to come across that way.
29. I'm sorry, that was insensitive. I appreciate you calling me out on what I said.
All right let's talk about some phrases for sensitive issues or sensitive topics because people and different cultures have different social rules or beliefs about what is considered okay to talk about and what isn't.
Maybe you have a colleague who says things that are really inappropriate or maybe you just feel uncomfortable talking about a particular topic.
Whether someone realises they're being inappropriate or not doesn't really matter. You absolutely have the right to let them know about it if you think they're being inappropriate but having the right language, the exact phrases to help you do this is essential and that's what we're going to talk about now.
30. I'd rather not talk about this if that's okay.
This is straight to the point but it's still polite and it's a really good phrase to have up your sleeve when someone asks you a question that you don't really want to answer and it's got that really nice English politeness to it too.
Is it okay with you? If it's okay with you.
Can you stop being an idiot, please?
You'll notice that these polite little starts or endings to a sentence or a question are used quite a lot throughout this section. It can sound a little rude or confronting to be really direct here so we use them just to help soften the request and make sure everyone feels comfortable in the conversation.
31. To be honest, I don't feel like talking about this right now.
32. This topic hits close to home, it's tough for me to talk about.
So the next few phrases are more direct, they're quite blunt so I'd only recommend using them if the person that you're talking to is being really persistent in their behaviour.
I haven't had to use these phrases much and I hope that you don't have to either but there are times when I've wished that I've had these really strong words come to mind in that moment and that I'd had the courage to use them.
So I'm hoping that by sharing them with you today, they'll come easier to you when you're in need of them.
A recent example of this for me is I had a conversation with a potential investor in my business and he was asking me if I was planning to have children because that would impact his interest in investing in my company.
I was so shocked in that moment, I just answered him but I wish that I had have said:
33. I don't mean to sound rude but that isn't any of your business.
34. That's a really personal question. I'm not comfortable answering that.
35. I think you're overstepping boundaries with that question. I'd rather not answer that.
If you want to end the conversation completely, you're just not interested in talking about this then you could say:
- I didn't come here today to argue about our different beliefs.
36. If you're not willing to change the topic, I'll leave.
Now I wanted to include a little section for the ladies out there because let's be honest it's mostly women who find themselves in a situation where they're being spoken to inappropriately in a sexual way. Let's just get completely comfortable telling someone that it's not okay.
So for example, if you have a boss or a colleague and they place their hand on your leg during a meeting, you look them straight in the eye and you say:
37. Please take your hand off my leg.
If you don't feel comfortable in that moment, then find them afterwards and say:
38. I'm only going to tell you this once; keep your hands to yourself. Nobody touches my body without my permission.
39. I don't appreciate being taken advantage of or made to feel uncomfortable in front of my colleagues. Please don't do that again.
Practise using the facial expression that I was just sharing there because honestly, it needs that direct and serious eye contact.
I have had way too many female students of mine go through situations like this and honestly if you have a situation that you don't understand because of cultural or language barriers please reach out to me and ask. Don't feel awkward or uncomfortable in a professional context, in a dating context, just because you don't understand or because you're not sure what to say. Reach out to me and talk about it.
Lastly, we've got politics, religion, sexuality, vaccinations, family planning, these are all controversial topics because people can have such vastly different polarising opinions and some people feel the need to push their own opinions and beliefs onto you.
Come on, we all have a friend or a family member who's like this right?
If you don't want to share your opinion about a topic, that's okay. And I've got some phrases for you that you can use to politely and confidently explain this.
40. I'd rather not express my opinion on this issue.
41. To be honest, this conversation is making me really uncomfortable.
You can make it super clear that you want to move on in the conversation too.
42. This isn't the time or the place to get into this discussion. Let's talk about something else, please.
43. We need to agree to disagree and move on.
44. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion which is why I prefer to steer clear of these topics.
45. I fundamentally disagree with you about this.
If you're feeling up to it you can try to understand more about their opinion by saying:
- It's clear we fundamentally disagree about this, but I'm curious to learn more about your views. Why are you so passionate about this?
Things got a little heated there towards the end right? Anyone feeling a little hot under the collar?
And just like that, you've learned a heck of a lot of phrases that you can use in different tricky situations and don't forget that I've created that really handy little workbook with all of the phrases from this lesson including some pronunciation tips.
You can download it in the description box below. The link is just down under the video and make sure you're following along mmmEnglish on our social channels as well if you want to reach out and say “Hi” Do that in the comments, come and say “Hi” on Instagram or Facebook. I'd love to see you answer your questions.
If you've got any lesson requests, let me know and for now, I'm gonna share this video with you right here because I think you're gonna love it.
See you in there!