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Phrases for different situations

Published on October 14, 2019

There are many ways to say the same thing. We, as English speakers, play with language to make it more interesting and descriptive. Here are some more natural ways to say some very common, everyday phrases.

How are you?

Many people learn the question, ‘How are you?’ and the response, ‘I’m fine, thank you. And you?’ when learning English. Native English speakers may find these phrases robotic. Here are some more common phrases.

What’s new?
What’s up?
What have you been up to?
What did you get up to (yesterday)?
These are all ways to ask if there is anything new happening in life; new job, new clothes, or new experience like going to a museum.

How are things?
How’s it going?
These questions mean the same as ‘How are you?’, just in a more natural way.

I’m fine, thank you. And you?

The listener may not believe that’s how you really feel as this phrase is very generic. Some more believable responses are:

Here, you would say these responses when something has happened and you want to share it.

Pretty good.
This means the same as good.

Same as always.
Can’t complain.
These are neutral responses where things in your life are OK.

Could be better.
Not so good.
Here are negative responses that tell the listener that you are going to share negative information.

Thank you.

The phrase, ‘Thank you’ is an acceptable response that people use often. Here are some other ways to say thank you.

I appreciate it.

I owe you one.
You want to show that person that you want to do something for them because they did something for you.

You’re Welcome.

Again, many people respond to ‘Thank you’ with ‘You’re welcome.’ Here are some other ways to say the same thing.

Don’t mention it.
We say this because we are trying to tell the person they don’t have to say ‘thank you’.

My pleasure.
We want to show that we enjoyed helping that person.

No problem.
No worries.

I don’t know.

Here are some other phrases that mean the same as ‘I don’t know’.

I’m not sure.
I can’t help you.
I have no idea.
Beats me.

I agree.

Saying, ‘I agree’ may sound robotic. Here are some natural ways to show you’re on the same page as the speaker.

That’s so true.
That’s for sure.
I agree 100%.
I couldn’t agree more.

I disagree.

Saying the phrase, ‘I disagree’, can sound too strong. When disagreeing with someone, two more polite phrases to use are:

I’m not so sure about that.
Not necessarily.

How’s the weather?

Many people would say, ‘It’s hot’ or ‘It’s cold’ when answering this question. Having a variety of descriptive phrases is key as the weather is a common topic.

It’s boiling

It’s a little chilly.

It’s freezing.

I’m tired.

When talking about how tired we are, we tend to be dramatic. Just saying ‘I’m tired’ is a bit basic. Some more colorful phrases are:

I’m beat.
I’m exhausted.
I’m dead tired.
I can hardly keep my eyes open.

It’s expensive/It’s cheap.

People like to be more descriptive when talking about the price of something. Some examples are:

It costs a fortune.
That’s a bit pricey.

That’s a rip-off.
We say this when we think the price of something is too high for its value.

That’s quite reasonable.
That’s a good deal.

It’s dirt cheap.
This means the price is extremely low.

I’m hungry.

When talking about food, we are also very descriptive. Here are some sentences to use when discussing food.

I’m starving.
We want to show that we need to eat very soon.

I’m stuffed
We say this when we have eaten too much.

Let’s grab a bite to eat.
Let’s eat out tonight.
We use these phrases when we want to get food from a restaurant.

Let’s hang around.

Some common ways to ask people to hang around are:

Are you free (on Saturday)?
‘Free’ means free time in this question.

Are you doing anything (on Sunday)?

When speaking English, using a variety of words and phrases will allow you to sound more natural. Your IELTS speaking band score may also benefit from more natural phrases.