This is a list of the most vital phrases for starting conversations, meeting people, sustaining and responding to chitchat, etc. For invitations, recommendations, dining out together, etc, see “The 100 most useful socialising phrases”. For intensive practice of these phrases and a bigger list of useful phrases, see Teaching Social English: Interactive Classroom Activities at https://www.usingenglish.com/e-books/social-english/
Meeting people/ Starting and ending conversations
Starting the conversation
(Excuse me.) Is anyone sitting here?/ Is this seat free?
(Sorry) do you speak English?
(Sorry,) is this the right place/ the right room for…?
Good morning/ afternoon/ evening. I’m here to see/ meet John Smith. (I’m guessing that’s you.)
Talking about names
(Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself./ I should probably introduce myself.) My name is Alexander Case (but please call me Alex/ but everyone calls me Alex).
I’m Alex (,by the way,) (Alex Case) (from…)
(Are you) John?/ You must be John.
(Yes.) That’s right./ That’s me. (And you must be…/ And you are?)
I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.
Polite language the first time you meet (after giving names)/ Expressions meaning “Nice to meet you”
(It’s) (really/ very/ so) nice to meet you (too).
(I’m) (very) glad/ pleased to meet you (too).
(We’ve emailed each other but/ We’ve spoken many times on the phone but) it’s so nice to finally meet you (face to face).
Expressions meaning “Nice to see you (again)”
(It’s) lovely/ great/ so nice to see you (again) (too).
Meeting again after a long time
(I don’t know if you remember me, but) we met…/ we worked together…/ we…
(Wow!) Long time no see. How have you been (since we last met)?
Other polite and friendly language at the beginning of a conversation
I’ve been looking forward to meeting you (too)./ I’ve heard so much about you (too).
Welcome (back) to…
Thanks for coming all this way/ coming such a long way (on such a cold day/ hot day/ humid day/ snowy day/… day).
Thanks for inviting me/ us (to…).
Ending small talk/ Ending conversations
Transitions language then saying something nice about the conversation
Well, it’s been great to talk (but…)
So, it’s been lovely to catch up (but…)
Okay then, I’d love to chat more/ hear more about that (later) (but…)
Giving a reason for ending the small talk/ ending the conversation
I’m afraid/ Unfortunately/ I’m sorry but I have a(nother) meeting at… (o’clock) (so…)
I know you are very busy (so…)
We have a lot to get through today (so…)
We only have this room until twelve (so…)
Getting down to business
Do you have a minute to talk?/ Are you free to talk?
(As you know/ As I said in my email) I (just) need to talk to you about…
Reacting when the other person needs to end the conversation
(Of course) I’ll let you get on (then)./ (Sorry) I won’t keep you any longer (then).
Moving to another place/ Directing people/ Giving directions/ Leading people somewhere
This way please./ After you./ Please follow me.
Introducing other people
Have you met…?/ I don’t think you’ve met...
I’d like to introduce you to/ Can I introduce you to (my colleague/ my boss)…?
This is (my/ the…) John (Smith).
Phrases like “Nice to meet you” at the end of the conversation
It was (really/ very/ so) nice to meet you.
(It was) nice/ great meeting you.
Like “Nice to see you (again)”, but at the end of the conversation
It was lovely/ great/ so nice to see you (again).
Small talk at the end of a conversation
Are you finished/ Have you finished (for the day/ for the day/ for the week)?
Do you have (m)any more meetings (today)?
Do you have to go (straight) back to your office (now/ after this)?
Do you have any plans for this evening/ for the weekend/ for…?
Good wishes for something that the other person will do in the future
(I hope you/ Hope you) have a good time/ good weekend/ good evening/ good time/ good trip.
Take care./ Bon voyage./ Have a safe journey (back/ home).
Good wishes for other people
(Please) pass on my (best) regards to…/ say “Hi” to… (from me).
Mentioning future contact
(I) hope we have the chance to meet again (soon).
(I) look forward to seeing you/ hearing from you/ your call.
See you (there)
Other friendly and polite language at the end of a conversation
Thanks again for taking the time to come here today.
I hope you had a good time/ I hope it was worth the trip/ I hope…
Thanks, that was really useful/ lovely/ really productive/ very stimulating/ a real eye opener/…
Small talk when meeting for the first time
Is this your first time here/ in…/ here in…?
What do you do (for a living)?
What does your company/ division/ department/ section/ team/… do?
Where is your company based?/ Where are you based?/ Where do you work?/ Do you work near here?/ Is your office near here?/ Are you based near here?
Who do you work for? (What do you do there?)
Small talk with people you’ve met before
What a coincidence!/ This is a nice surprise. (I didn’t know that you were interested in…/ that you were in the area/ that you…)
Did you have a good/ nice/ fun weekend/ evening/ holiday?
(Have you) been busy (lately/ recently/ today/ this week)?
How has your day been/ week been (so far)?
How was your (long/ three-day) weekend?
How was your (summer/ Xmas/ New Year/ Easter/ bank) holiday/ vacation?
How’s it going?/ How are things?/ How are you doing?/ How’s life (treating you)?
How’s John (doing/ getting on/ getting on with…)?
How’s your project going?/ How’s… going?
What are you working (on at the moment)?/ Are you (still) working on…?
Small talk when meeting for the first time or again
Did you have any problems getting here?/ Did you have any trouble finding us?
How long are you here?/ How long will you be here?/ How long are you staying (in…) (this time)?/ Are you staying long?
How was your flight (from…/ to…)?/ How was your journey (here/ from…)?
How’s the weather (outside/ outside now/ in…/ back in…) (now)?/ Is it still…?
It’s (a bit/ rather/ quite/ really/ so) humid/ cold/ hot/ grey/ crowded/ busy/…, isn’t it? (Is it usually like this (at this time of year))?
Was the map (that I sent) okay?
What brings you here (today)?/ What brings you to…?/ Are you here for/ to…?
(You must be really jet lagged). What time is it now in…?/ What’s the time difference between… and…?
Answers to “How…?” questions
(Really) great/ (Pretty) good/ Very well/ Not (so/ too) bad/ Fine
Not so good/ Not so great.
Talking about your studies or company and job
I’m studying (for)… at…
I work for ABC Limited./ I work in the… department/ division/ section of ABC Limited.
I’m in charge of/ I’m responsible for…
Not answering questions (politely)
I’d rather not say (if you don’t mind).
Asking the same question back to someone
How about you?/ And you?/ What about you?
Reacting to what people say
Positive reactions (reacting to good news, etc)
I’m happy/ relieved/ delighted to hear that.
That sounds great/ lovely/ delicious/ nice/ fantastic/ wonderful/ fabulous/ perfect/ ideal.
Negative reactions (reacting to bad news, etc)
I’m sorry to hear that.
That’s a pity./ That’s a shame./ That’s too bad.
That sounds awful/ terrible/ unbearable/ stressful/ like a nightmare.
Encouraging someone to continue
Showing you’re listening/ Not listening in silence
(Talking of…,) that reminds me,…
Offering/ Helping (making a guest comfortable, etc)
(Would you like) something to drink/ tea or coffee?
Can I take your bag(s)/ your coat(s)/ your…?
Please take a seat (anywhere you like) (and she’ll come out and see you shortly).
(Please) make yourself at home. (You can leave your coat/ bag/ stuff/… here/ over there/… if you like).
Please help yourself (to sugar/ to…)
Responding to offers
That would be great/ lovely/ a great help/… (but…)
Thank you, that’s very kind (but if you don’t mind, I’d prefer…)
Discussing business cards
Do you have a business card (on you)?
It’s (all) written on my business card. (Let me give you one). Here you are./ Here you go.
Thanks. And here’s mine.
(Oh,) I see (from your card) that you…
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