Want to practice your English with strangers but not sure how to start a conversation?
Well, look no further, this blog will help you out!
Arthur's video provides excellent examples of conversation starters, and great pronunciation models for you. His playlist also has plenty of tips for keeping the conversation going once started. Many of the ideas in this post come from his video.
Conversation Starter: Talking about something in common
According to Arthur, the key to starting a conversation with anybody, anywhere is to find something you have in common.
Talking about the place you’re in or the weather is always a good start. British people are famous for talking about the weather!
… isn't it?
Some example conversation starters you could use are:
It’s a nice day, isn’t it?
It’s busy here, isn’t it!
Do you notice something they have in common? They both follow the structure It’s a …, isn’t it?
When we use the question tag “isn’t it?” it always follows a verb in the positive form. It also has a rising intonation.
If you wanted to talk about something more negative, you’d flip the verbs:
Horrible weather today, isn’t it?
Notice how I also dropped “it’s a…” as it’s not really necessary. We often skip it out when making a statement such as this.
A third way to make a statement about the situation you’re in is to use what a…
What a beautiful/horrible/wet/windy day!
What a great presentation.
What a beautiful bag!
Ok, so this is also a good one for giving compliments. Everybody loves a compliment, and it’s easy to follow up with questions about where the item came from.
This could then lead to a longer conversation, and you might find some things in common!
This is a solid way to start a conversation with anyone! You’ll generally find out from the response to your statement whether the other person wants to continue the conversation.
The first step is always the hardest!
But how do you respond? Well you could just say “yes” but then that’s the end of your conversation.
Instead, you could make a statement:
Ok, so perhaps responding with just a statement isn’t the best way. Either you or the other person is going to need to ask a question at some point.
Arthur suggests the question “what brought you here?” which is a casual, less blunt way of asking “why are you here?” Hopefully, the conversation will then flow!
You could also ask “what brings you here?” Same meaning, slightly different form. Some other ideas include “do you come here often?” or “have you been here before?”
So, there we are! Your challenge is to see if you can start a conversation with a stranger in English next time you’re out and about. First just try to start it, then see if you can continue it.
Don’t forget to check out Arthur’s playlist for more great conversation tips.