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How to Keep a Conversation Going in English

When you’re making conversation in English, it’s helpful to have the right vocabulary to express yourself well. On top of that, when you want to go a little bit deeper than just basic small talk, you need to make sure you know how to continue the conversation so there aren’t any awkward silences. 

In this post, we’ll have a look at some of the expressions you can use to make sure you keep a conversation going in a natural way.

Beginning the conversation 

If you want to start chatting with someone, it’s a good idea to ask open-ended questions. If you begin by asking a yes/no question, the conversation might not continue for very long. If you do start with a yes/no question, just make sure you have some follow-up questions ready. Here are some ideas:

“What do you think about . . . ?”

→ What do you think about the mask policy at work?

“Have you heard about . . . ?” (If they answer “yes,” you can ask their opinion. If they say “no,” give an explanation of the topic before asking for their thoughts.)

→ Have you heard about the meeting the CEO is planning?

“What do you like about . . . ?”

→ What do you like about living in such a small town?

“Have you ever considered . . . ?” (If they answer “yes,” you can ask for more details. If they say “no,” give your opinion on the topic first.)

→ Have you ever considered becoming a vegetarian?

Giving details 

As we mentioned briefly, one way to get someone to keep talking is to provide your own opinions or details about your experiences. That will help move the conversation along as your conversation partner relates to your experiences.

“In my opinion . . .”

→ In my opinion, companies should raise the minimum wage by 50%. What do you think?

“In my experience . . .”

→ In my experience, setting goals has been the best way to achieve what I want to do. 

“I think . . .”

→ I think it’s important to get an hour of exercise every single day. What are your thoughts on that?

Follow-up questions/comments

Depending on what your conversation partner says, you can try some of the following to keep them talking:

“What do you mean?”

“Why?”

“How?”

“Go on!” 

“Tell me more!”

Demonstrating active listening

It’s important to show your conversation partner that you’re listening and interested. Just make sure you don’t interrupt too often—wait for a natural pause. Here are some phrases you can use: 

“Oh, wow!”

“Really?”

“That’s interesting!”

“Oh, no!”

“I didn’t know that.”

“I had no idea.”

Disagreeing

You may not agree with everything the other person is saying, but there are ways to disagree politely so you don’t immediately stop the conversation:

“I see what you mean, but . . .” 

→ I see what you mean, but not everyone feels comfortable getting the vaccine. 

“For me . . .”

→ For me, the most important thing is happiness, not money. 

“I see what you’re saying, but in my experience . . .” 

→ I see what you’re saying, but in my experience, cutting down on coffee has helped me to sleep much better.

Keep the conversation going

The next time you’re having a conversation, try some of these English expressions to avoid awkward pauses and keep it flowing naturally!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.