Certain basic English phrases are more valuable than others.
So why not focus on learning these words first? That’s exactly why we decided to write this article for you.
Whether you’re just starting to learn English or you’re already on your way, today’s English lesson will cover the most important English phrases. These will come particulary handy for you if you’re planning to travel to an English speaking country soon.
35 Basic English Phrases That You Wish You Knew Sooner
Before we share our list of most useful English words for beginners, we recommend a few tips:
a. Grab a pen and notebook (or use a digital notebook like Evernote)
b. Browse through the article and see which words you’re not familiar with, and write those down
c. Then go through the article a second time (you can skim it this time), and decide which you believe you’ll use most often
d. Pick up to 5-10 words that fit these criterias
e. Keep these handy, and read them outloud. Ideally, try to use these words immediately or today with a friend, family member, or co-worker
The reason why we suggest picking only 5-10 is this allows you to focus on words that will deliver the most value for your time. It’s likely that you may know these words already, but there’s always room to improve!
Now let’s get to the rest of the article.
Useful English Phrases For Beginners
First we’ll cover general phrases that will be useful for those of you just starting to learn English.
1. How are you?
This is the most common way to start any conversation when you see a friend, family member, or anyone that you strike up a new conversation with.
Hey, how are you today?
2. I’m good, you?
You can say this phrase when someone asks how you’re doing. Feel free to mix this up with, ‘I’m doing well’ or ‘Couldn’t be better!’ if you’re in a particularly good mood.
3. Thank you
Use this to thank someone if they provided you with a service or a generous deed.
Person A. Would you like more water? (at a restaurant)
You: Yes, thank you.
4. I’m sorry
Did you do something that you feel bad about? You can apologize to them by saying: ‘I’m sorry.’
5. Excuse me
Pass through a crowded street or get someone’s attention if they’re not looking at you by saying: ‘Excuse me.’
6. Good morning
Greet someone in the morning instead of a traditional hello with this phrase.
7. Good bye
It’s the end of the night, and you’re ready to go back home while with friends. Tell them this before you separate paths.
8. You’re welcome
When someone says: ‘Thank you’, a polite way to respond to accept their thanks is to say ‘you’re welcome’
Basic Greetings in English
Now we’ll go over the most common ways that you’ll introduce yourself to a fellow English speaker at work, school, at an event, or somewhere else.
9. What’s your name?
If it’s your first time meeting someone, you may want to ask for their name to remember them by.
Person A: Hi, nice to meet you.
You: Nice to meet you as well. What’s your name?
10. My name is [first name], you?
When someone else asks you what your name is, you can respond this way.
11. Nice to meet you
A simple greeting to let someone know that you’re enjoying their company. You can use this when you meet someone for the first time, or even when you’re about to end a conversation.
Person A. Sorry but I have to head out to meet my friend for dinner now.
You: No worries, it was nice to meet you!
12. Where are you from?
A great small talk question to get a better understanding of a person’s background, whether it’s their nationality or city they grew up in. Most of the time, it is referring to someone’s nationality.
You: Where are you from?
Person A: Well, I was born in Mexico but I actually grew up here in the United States!
13. How old are you?
Perhaps not the most polite question to ask if you don’t know someone well, but once you do get to know them better, you can ask this.
14. See you soon
At the end of a conversation or event, you can say this to let them know that you’d be interested in seeing them again.
Useful English Phrases to Get Clarification
This is important for learners when they don’t fully understand what the other person is saying. Use the following phrases in English to get more clarification, so you don’t run into awkward conversations!
15. Sorry, I don’t speak English
Not able to have a conversation with someone or have no interest in conversing with them? Let them know you don’t speak any English.
Person A: Excuse me, do you have a moment to help me out with this problem?
You: Sorry, I don’t speak English.
16. Could you repeat that again?
Didn’t quite hear what the other person was saying? This could be because you’re on the phone with bad reception or there is a lot of noise outside.
17. Could you speak a little slower?
Is the person you’re speaking to talking really fast? Or maybe they’re speaking at normal speed but you’re not fully understanding what they’re saying. Tell them to slow down.
18. What does [ABC] mean?
To get clarity on what a word, phrase, or anything means, you can use this question.
19. How do you spell that?
Did someone use a word that you haven’t heard before? Or perhaps someone is giving you a name or address and you want to make sure that you know exactly what they’re saying.
Person A: Sure, no problem. Come to my house and we’ll talk. It’s at 20 Bohemia Ave.
You: How do you spell Bohemia?
Person A: B-O-H-E-M-I-A
You: Perfect, thank you.
How to Speak on the Phone in English
What do most English conversations look like, so that you can call that girl or boy you like, or have the ability to speak to your family members?
21. This is [Your Name] speaking
Let the other person on the phone who they’re talking to by sharing your name. Usually this will be your first name.
22. Can I speak to?
Are you trying to get hold of someone, but a different person picked up the phone?
Person A: Hello, this is Mariela speaking.
You: Hi Mariela. Can I speak to John?
23. Thank you, I’ll hold.
Person A: Yes, I’ll connect you with John now.
You: Thank you, I’ll hold.
24. When is a better time to call back?
If the person you’re trying to get in touch with is not available, you can get a better idea of when to follow up with this question.
Person A: Sorry but John is not here.
You: No problem, when is a better time to call back?
Most Common English Phrases for Travellers
Do you have a trip coming up in the United States, Australia, England, or another English speaking country? You may want to keep these handy.
25. How do I get to [location]
When you land in a new area, and you need to find your hotel, a restaurant, or a touristic spot, this is a very useful question to know.
You: Excuse me. How do I get to Time Square from here?
26. Where is the nearest ATM?
Whether you’re at the airport or you’re speaking to a local shopowner, you can ask them where the ATM machine is.
27. How much is this?
Generally used when you’re shopping at a market or shop without a price tag, you can use this to ask the price.
28. Turn left/right or go straight
Directions are important mostly to understand when someone is giving it to you.
29. What is your phone number/Instagram/Facebook?
Met a cute girl or boy that you want to keep in touch with? Or a cool person that you want to reconnect with in the future? Ask them for their contact information or social media.
Business English Phrases For Work
Lastly, we wanted to cover the most basic English phrases for business. If you happen to have an English speaking co-worker or if you’re currently working for an English speaking organization, read on.
30. Who am I speaking with?
Similar to the basic phrases we shared for phone conversations, this is useful to know when you’re on a call at work.
31. What do you think about [proposal/project/idea]?
Feedback is vital to succeed at the workplace. If you want to know what your colleague or boss thinks about your new idea/proposal/project, ask them this question.
32. I agree with you.
Share with a co-worker that you’re on the same page as them.
Person A: Mary is a great colleague but I think she needs to do a better job with motivating her team members.
You: Yes, I agree with you on that. But…
33. I think we should…
When you want to propose a new idea, you can introduce it by saying this.
34. I’d like to introduce you to my colleague, [first name]
Become a connector when a new team member joins your team or when you’re introducing someone to a friend.
35. Is there anything else we need to discuss for today’s meeting?
This is useful at the end of a meeting to ask everyone on your team if there’s anything else you need to talk about.
You: Thanks everyone for sharing your ideas and feedback. Is there anything else we need to talk about?
We hope you found these basic phrases useful to help you speak English more confidently. It’s not going to be easy at first, so make sure you practice, practice, practice. And remember, focus on the most valuable words first, instead of trying to memorize all 35 phrases we shared with you today.
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