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Small Talk

Small talk is used at parties, when meeting people, etc. to be kind and get along with others at the events. Hopefully, small talk leads to more interesting conversations. However, the ability to small talk and use appropriate phrases can help get the conversation flowing.

First Name, Last Name or Title?
Discussion of the correct use of informal and formal forms when speaking about and to people including when to use last names, titles and first name only.

Introductions - Social Language
How to make introductions in English for ESL learners.

Greetings - Social Language
How to greet in English for ESL learners.

Special Days - Social Language
How to make special greetings in English on holidays, birthdays and on other special occasions for ESL learners.

Speaking to Strangers - Social Language
How to make special greetings in English on holidays, birthdays and on other special occasions for ESL learners.

Travel Greetings - Social Language
How to wish someone well before they leave to travel or return from travel in English for ESL learners.

Starting a Conversation - Top Ten Questions
Here are ten questions that will help beginning level learners of English when starting a conversation. Each question is followed by a number of questions to continue the conversation.

Offering Help
The most common language formulas used when offering help with examples and a construction table. Especially helpful for learners who work in a shop and need to help clients in English.

Making Small Talk for English Learners
Many English students are more interested in making effective small talk than knowing correct grammar strucutres - and rightly so! Here are some tips to improve small talk skills.

Demanding Explanations
Sometimes, things happen that we would like explained and we must demand explanations. For example, if you have just bought a new computer and there is a problem, but the shop assistant says that the guaranty does not cover the problem.

Being Vague or Imprecise
Sometimes it's impossible to be exact and when need to be imprecise when giving information. Here are the a number of the most common formulas in English for being imprecise.

Asking for Information
The most common language formulas used when asking for information with examples and a construction table.

Apologizing in English
Guide to common phrases used for apologizing in English for English learners and classes.

Asking for Things
Guide to common phrases used for asking and requesting things in English for English learners and classes.

Asking People to Repeat
Guide to common phrases used to ask someone to repeat something in English for English learners and classes.

Expressing Sympathy
Guide to common phrases used to express sympathy in English for English learners and classes.

Getting People's Attention
Guide to common phrases used to get someone's attention in English for English learners and classes.

Going to Bed / Getting Up
Guide to common phrases used to ask someone to repeat something in English for English learners and classes.

Greeting People in English
Guide to common phrases used to greet people in English for English learners and classes.

Handing Something to Someone
Guide to common phrases used to hand someone something in English for English learners and classes.

Making Invitations
Guide to common phrases used to make invitations in English for English learners and classes.

How to Offer Things
Guide to common phrases used to make offers in English for English learners and classes.

Phrases Used at Meals
Guide to common phrases used to at meals English for English learners and classes.

Phrases Used when Drinking
Guide to common phrases used when drinking in English for English learners and classes.

Asking Polite Questions
Part of making small talk is asking polite questions in the course of conversation. This guide to asking polite questions discusses each type of question form and provides suggestions on making your questions more polite.

Introducing Yourself - Video Help

This video with Ellen Quish, an ESL specialist from the Adult Learning Center at LaGuardia Community College in New York City, will help you practice ways of introducing yourself. The video highlights the most common English introduction vocabulary and phrases.

Please and Thank You
How to use please and thank you is essential in any conversation. This guide to please and thank you will make sure you use these two common expressions correctly in any conversation.

Gonna and Wanna
Gonna and Wanna are reductions of going to and want to and are common in American English pronunciation. This guide to reductions will help you improve your understanding of informal American spoken English.

Making Conversation
Making conversation can be challenging. However, if you ask the right questions, you'll find it much easier. This guide to asking the right type of questions will help you extend your conversations.

It Depends
Use it depends to answer yes / no questions to provide a more truthful answer to questions about your opinions, abilities and so on. This guide shows common mistakes and correct grammar structures to use with this helpful phrase for conversation.

Asking for a Favor in English
This article provides phrases and structure for asking for a favor, as well as granting or denying a request for a favor in English. It includes role-plays and multiple examples.

Asking for Permission in English
Learn how to ask for permission, as well as granting or denying permission in English. Structure, role-plays and multiple examples are included.

Asking for Information in English
You'll often need to ask for information in English. Learn the correct forms and practice asking for information in informal and formal situations.

Expressing Sadness
Some days you might not feel too well and would like to express your sadness. Learn how to express your feelings and respond to others who are feeling sad.

Giving and Receive Presents in English
It's important to say the right thing when giving a gift in English. It's equally important to say thank you. Use these phrases to give and receive presents.

Comparing and Contrasting in English
The phrases you use to compare and contrast ideas, events and people will help you get your point across. Use these words, forms and phrases to express yourself well.

Expressing Enthusiasm or Joy
What to say when you're really excited about something and expressing your enthusiasm. Use these phrases, practice the dialogues and then try them out to express how happy you are.

Confirming Information
If it's important every detail is understood, use these structures and phrases when clarifying information in English to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Encouraging Others
How can you help others succeed? By providing Encouragement! Here are phrases and ways to encourage others in English.

Expressing Disappointment in English
Learning how to say you are disappointed is important when communicating with others. Use these phrases and practice with dialogs.

Complaining in English
If things aren't going as well as you would like, or if something doesn't work you might need to complain. Use these phrases to complain in English about anything that doesn't seem right.

Concession and Refutation
In conversation and at meetings it's important to listen carefully. If you don't agree with someone, first concede a point, but then refute to win the argument.


There are many forms used in English to agree. Use these phrases and structures to join in the conversation and agree, as well as state your reservations.

Catching Up at a Reunion - Learning English Idioms in Context
Here's a short dialogue about two friends meeting at a high school reunion. Practice new idioms and conversation.

How to Pay Someone a Compliment in English
It's important to know how to pay a compliment to someone on their abilities, looks or possessions. Learn the right phrases for both formal and informal situations.

Having the Final Word
Sometimes it's necessary to change the topic or end a conversation. Use these phrases and structures to have the final word.

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