Hello and goodbye

TIP 1 When you start a conversation try to reply in a way that develops the conversation.

First phrase


How are you?

Fine thanks. And you? You’re looking well.

Nice to see you again.

Nice to see you too. How are you?

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it.

Yes, I think we last met two years ago in Moscow.

Nice weather today, isn’t it.

Yes, lovely. I hope it stays like this for the weekend.

Terrible weather,isn’t it.

Yes, awful. I think it’s rained every day since I arrived.

That’s a nice shirt / blouse.

Thanks. I bought it from Harrods.

This coffee is a bit weak.

Yes, it is. Not like the coffee you get in Italy.

Did you get the report I sent you?

Yes, I did, thanks. It was very useful.

 Saying goodbye

 Useful phrases:

  • I guess I should be going.
  • Well, I really must go now.
  • I’m afraid I must be going, I’ve got a long day tomorrow.
  • It’s been nice meeting you. Have a good trip, and give my regards to Mr. B
  • It was nice meeting you. I think we had a very useful meeting.

Showing interest

Showing attention

Echo questions

Echo words


Wh- questions

Right. Sure. Yes. Yeah. Yuh. Mhm. Uhuh.

Did you? Are they? Was it?

Five hundred? Six months? All over the world?

So what happened? Why was that, then?

How did you feel?

                                    1. Interest

                                    2. Pleasure

                                    3. Agreement

Personal response    4. Sympathy

to express:                 5. Surprise

                                    6. No surprise


Really? That sounds interesting.

Really! Fantastic! Great!

Exactly. Of course. Sure.

How awful. What a pity. Poor you.

No! That’s strange! Good heavens!

Mhm. I’m not surprised.


Mr. A

Mr. B

I’ve just come back from France.

Have you? Where did you go?

Mary went into hospital again.

Again? What a pity. I must go and visit her.

We’re thinking about getting a bigger flat.

Are you? Where are you moving to?

Michael’s looking for a new job.

Mhm. I’m not surprised.

Making a personal comment

You are uncertain                                  It seems that… Presumably… Apparently…

Your next comment is surprising        As a matter of fact… Actually… Strangely enough

Your next comment is obvious            Of course, … Obviously… Clearly…

You had some good / bad fortune       I’m pleased to say that… Unfortunately… Luckily…

You are being honest                           Actually…To be honest… Frankly…

Something is confidential                    Please don’t repeat this, but… Between you and me…


Mr. A

Mr. B

Did you find the restaurant I told you about?

Luckily, the taxi driver knew here it was.

The new model is a big improvement.

Of course, it’s a little more expansive.

Did you go to Frankfurt Trade Fair?

Unfortunately, I didn’t go this year.

Do you think she’ll get the new job?

To be honest, I don’t think so.

How did he react?

Actually, he seems to be quite angry.

Why did they move Mary out of the Sales Department?

Between me and you, she asked for a transfer.

 Thinking time and turn-taking

Gaining time to think                                                Well… you know,…

Explaining what you just said                                  I mean… Well, …

Saying something surprising                                  Actually,… In fact,…

Going back to previous topic                                  So,… Anyway,…

Saying something isn’t worth worrying about      Still,…   

Changing the topic                                                   So,… By the way,… Anyway,…

Closing a topic by summarizing in a few words    Anyway,…

Showing you want to end a conversation              Anyway,… (followed by a long pause)

 Offering help


Can I carry your beg for you?

Shall I give you a lift?

May I help?



Yes, please. If it’s not too much trouble.

Thanks very much. I’d appreciate that.

Yes, thank you. That’s very kind.


Do you want a hand?

Do you want me to take a copy for you?

Would you like me to call your office?

Shall I call you a taxi?

Would you like me to carry your bag?

Do you need help getting an outside line?


That’s very kind of you, but I can manage.

Thank you very much, but there’s no need.

No thanks, it’s all right.

No thanks, I’d prefer to walk.

Thanks. It’s not very heavy.

I think I can manage. I just press 9, don’t I?

Saying yes

Positive reply

Is this your first visit to Budapest?

You speak English, don’t you?


Yes, it is, I didn’t expect to see so many tourists.

Yes, that’s right, although I’m not fluent.


It’s really cold today.

Japanese is a difficult language.


Yes, it is, isn’t it. It’s freezing.

Yes, it is probably one of the most difficult languages.

Accepting an offer of help

Do you want a hand?

Would you like me to carry those?


Oh, thanks very much. I’d appreciate that.

Oh, that’s very kind of you.

Giving permission

Can I have another cup of coffee?

Could I use your phone?


Of course. Help yourself.

Certainly. Please go ahead.


Will you let me know by next week?


Yes, of course.

Passing an object

Is the dictionary over here?


Yes, here you are.

 Saying no

Negative reply

Is this your first visit to Moscow?

You speak German, don’t you?


No, it isn’t, actually. I was here last year.

No, I’m afraid not.


Your brother’s quite you, isn’t he.

She seems happy in her new job.


Do you think so?

Really? I’m not so sure about that.

Refusing an offer of help

Do you want a hand?

Would you like me to carry those?


No thanks, I can manage.

No, it’s all right, thanks.

Refusing a request

Could you give me a lift to the station?

Can I pay in cash?


Actually, it’s a bit inconvenient right now.

I’m sorry, but it’s against company policy.


Will there be ant delay?


No, of course not.

 Cultural hints:

  • Different cultures stand apart at different distances while speaking: about one arm’s length in America and Northern Europe, just over this in Japan and just under this in Latin America and Southern Europe. Arabs stand even nearer.
  • In America eye contact establishes directness and sincerity. In Latin America and Sothern Europe eye contact is important to establish trust, and eyebrow raising is used frequently for surprise, disagreement etc. Japanese find direct eye contact rude, and look to the side while listening and down while speaking. Sideways glances are used to check understanding and signal that a turn is finished.
  • Social conversations in Latin America and Southern Europe are personal, full of expressions of hospitality and questions about your family. Americans also talk freely about personal life.
  • In Japan and south-east Asia personal questions are not common. Social conversation is more an exchange of monologues, with a silent reflection showing respect for the other person’s comments.

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