The 100 most useful socialising phrases

Summary: Vital phrases for being hospitable and responding to hospitality.

This is a list of the most important things to be able to say, understand and respond to in socialising situations like going to restaurants with foreign guests. For related topics like meeting people and small talk, see the more general list of “100 most useful social English phrases” and for over 300 pages of communicative materials on this and other social English phrases, see the e-book Teaching Social English: Interactive Classroom Activities –


Recommendations and invitations

Small talk questions from the host leading to recommendations and invitations

Are you finished for today?

Are you doing anything/ Do you have any plans for tonight/ on…day/ at the weekend/ on your last day/…?

Have you ever been to/ visited/ tried/ heard of/ seen/…?


Small talk questions from the guest leading to recommendations and invitations

Are there any (good)…/ Is there anywhere good to… near here/ around here?

Where do you (guys) (usually)…?


Asking for recommendations

Do you have any recommendations (for…)?


Giving recommendations

Strong positive recommendations

(If you like..., then) you’ll love…

I strongly/ highly/ thoroughly recommend…

You really should/ really must…


Weaker positive recommendations

It’s (well) worth thinking about/ It’s (well) worth considering…


Negative recommendations

I wouldn’t (necessarily/ really) recommend…

If I were you, I’d avoid…


Further recommendations (after the response to the first recommendation)

(I see what you mean). In that case,…


Responses to recommendations

Strong positive responses to recommendations

That’s a great idea. I’ll (definitely) do that.


Weaker positive responses to recommendations (weakest bottom)

That seems like a good idea. I’ll give it a try.


Negative responses to recommendations

I’m not so sure that’s… (in this case) (because…) Can you suggest anything else?



Other phrases leading up to an invitation

I know it’s (really) short notice, but…



Would you like to… (with us)?

Do you fancy…?


Positive responses to invitations (in approximate level of formality)

(Thanks.) I’d love to. (Where shall we meet?)

(Sure). That sounds great/ perfect/ perfect/ lovely/ like just my kind of thing (See you there!)


Negative responses to invitations

Positive comments on the invitation

(Oh) I would have loved to, but…

That’s very kind, but…


Giving a (detailed) reason for saying no

… I’m…ing (…)/ I will be …ing (…) (at that time/ at just that time).


Mentioning future contact

But definitely invite me again next time.

So I’ll see you…

I can come… if you’re going out then.


Reacting to responses to invitations

Reactions to positive responses

Great. (You won’t regret it). I’ll email you a map later.


Reactions to negative responses

Giving up when receiving negative responses (without sounding negative)

That a pity. We should have let you know earlier. We’ll definitely let you know sooner next time.

Never mind. Another time, perhaps.

Okay. I understand. If your schedule changes…


Trying again when receiving negative responses

That’s a shame. How about if we made it…?

That’s fine, you can just come along later. (Just phone me when you get to the station and I’ll come and pick you up).


The big list of useful socialising phrases

Useful phrases for hosts in restaurants


Shall I order for all of us/ pour you another drink/…?

Would you like any side dishes with that/… (with that)?

Please help yourself.

It’s on me.


Questions to ask the guest before ordering

Do you like spicy/ sweet/ sour/ bitter/raw/ Asian/… food?

Have you ever heard of/ tried…?

How do you feel about…?

Is there anything you can’t eat/ don’t eat/ don’t like/ are allergic to?

What kind of food do you like?


Recommendations/ Suggestions in a restaurant

I’d recommend this starter.

I think you’d like this side dish.

You really should try/ really must try this dessert.

It goes well with this sauce/ with….

We usually eat it with vegetables/….

Shall we go Dutch?/ Shall we split the bill?


Phrases for describing food

(I should warn you that) it’s (a bit/ very) slimy/ spicy/ smelly/ weird/ an acquired taste.

It (usually) comes with…/ There’s a (special)… that comes with it/ goes with it.

It goes well with…

It’s (usually) a starter/ main course/ dessert/ side dish/ snack.

It’s big enough for one person/ two people/… people.

It’s (sometimes/ often/ usually/ almost always/ always) coated in/ cooked/ covered with/ coated with/ dipped in/ filled with/ stuffed with/ seasoned with/ served with/ wrapped in…

It’s (especially/ incredibly/ most/ very/ fairly/ not very) common/ popular (in/ with…)

It’s (extremely/ really/ fairly) filling/ healthy/ unhealthy/ nutritious/ rich/ starchy (because…)

It’s (always/ usually) made from/ of…

It’s served hot/ cold/ frozen/ in its shell/…

It’s (very/ fairly) similar to…, but…/ It’s (very/ fairly/ a bit) like… but…

It’s/ looks/ smells/ tastes (like)…

It’s (really/ quite/ fairly/ a bit) bitter/ delicious/ hot/ spicy/ salty/ sharp/ sour/ sweet

It’s/ The texture is (really/ quite/ fairly/ a bit) chewy/ crisp/ crunchy/ dry/ fatty/ greasy/ hard/ lumpy/ moist/ slimy/ sticky/…

You can choose/ select (your own)…/ between… (,…) and…


Vague answers

(We can check with the waiter, but) as far as I know/ as I remember,…

(Judging) (from the name/ from the name/ from the description), it sounds like…

(Judging from the photo/ From the photo), it looks like…


Chatting while eating/ Chatting about the food and restaurant/ Just making conversation

How’s your meal/ your steak/…? (Is it what you expected?)

Is this available/ popular in your country (too), do you know?


Useful phrases for guests in restaurants

Questions about food and drink (before ordering)

Can you recommend a main dish/ a starter/…?

Do they have anything vegan/ vegetarian/ halal/ kosher/ gluten free/…?

Does… go well with…?/ What is it usually eaten with?

Have you tried the stew/ the…?

How filling/ rich/ spicy/ sour/ bitter/ sweet/ hot/ smelly/ salty/ heavy/ chewy/ hard/ greasy/ slimy/ sticky/ messy (to eat)/ (un)healthy/… is it?

Is it (very) bitter/ sour/ spicy/ sweet/ filling/ healthy/ hot/ cold/ nutritious/ smelly/ salty/ heavy/ light/ rich/ chewy/ crunchy/ hard/ slimy/ greasy/ sticky/ messy/…?

Is it a starter or a main course?

Is it big enough on its own (or will I need to order another dish)?

What does it taste like?

What is it made from?


Requests in a restaurant

This one looks nice/ sounds nice. (Can we order this one?)

(It all sounds so nice/ looks so nice.) I’ll let you decide/ order (for both of us)/ I’ll have whatever you’re having.


Refusing/ Turning down offers in a restaurant

If you don’t mind, I’d prefer something a bit less filling/ spicy/ exotic/ adventurous.

I’m afraid I don’t drink (…)/ eat pork/ eat shellfish/ eat beef/ eat meat/ eat seafood.

That’s very kind, but I couldn’t eat another thing.


Chatting while eating/ Chatting about the food and restaurant/ Just making conversation

(This looks like a nice place.) Do you come here often?/ Have you been here before?

Am I eating this (one) the right way?

Is it okay to dip this one in this one/ eat this one with my fingers/ pick this up/ …?

Wow, this one is (surprisingly/ amazingly) delicious/ yummy/ scrumptious/ tasty/ exquisite.

This reminds me (a little) of…

What is this one called/ made from/ used for (again/ do you know)?

Is this popular/ traditional/ common?/ How popular/ traditional/ common is this (for…/ in…)?

Do you know how to make this one?

What’s in this one (do you know)?

I (especially/ really) like this one./ I think this one is my favourite./ If I had to choose one,…

How do you spell the name of this one? (I’d like to Google it later).

I’d (definitely) order… again.

You must give me/ email me the recipe for this (so I can try and cook it at home).

Do you know where the bathroom/ the restroom/ the powder room/ the ladies is?


Complimenting/ Thanking after eating

Thanks, that was delicious.

Thank you very much for your hospitality. (I’ll do the same for you sometime).

You are too kind! (You must let me take you out in return).


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Written by Alex Case for

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