Free English Lessons

Natural English Conversation Responses – Video Lesson

by Gina Mares on 16 November, 2018 , Comments Off on Natural English Conversation Responses – Video Lesson

In this lesson, you can learn to how to use natural English conversation responses to improve your English speaking.

When you’re speaking a second language, you often need to concentrate on understanding what the other person is saying.

This means you might forget to respond naturally, but natural responses are important to keep your English conversation going, and also to show the other person that you care about what they’re saying.

This lesson will show you natural English conversation responses which you can use to express interest, surprise, agreement, confusion, and much more!

1. How to Show Interest, Understanding and Surprise

Natural English Conversation Responses - show surprise conversation image

When someone’s telling you a story, it’s important to show interest in what they’re saying. First, let’s see what not to do.

Daniel: The other day, I met up with an old friend from high school. It was great to catch up with him!

Stephanie: Mmm-hmm.

D: He’s had such an interesting life. At the moment, he’s working in an orangutan sanctuary in Borneo.

S: Mmm-hmm.

D: Next, he told me he’s planning to develop a spaceship which can take humans to Mars!

S: Mmm-hmm.

Of course, you can nod your head and say mmm-hmm or hmm, but that doesn’t sound like you’re very interested. There are other ways to show that you’re engaged. Let’s look at a better way to do this.

D: I had a chat with my boss the other day and he’s putting me on this great new project.
S: Really? That’s great!

[…]

D: So I visited my family last Sunday and we had a lovely barbecue.
S: Sounds nice!

[…]

D: The exam was really hard, I’m not sure if I’ve passed it.
S: Is that right?

Of course, you can’t be interested in everything that someone is saying to you.

But, it’s still helpful to show that you’re listening, and that you understand what the other person is saying.

Let’s see some useful phrases you can use to do this.

S: My car broke down last week, so I had to get it repaired.
D: Oh, yeah?
S: It seemed like it was leaking oil.
D: I see.
S: They told me it wasn’t too bad, they could get it fixed easily.
D: Uh-huh.

Some situations need stronger responses, for example if you hear something surprising.

D: My sister broke up with her boyfriend.
S: Seriously?
D: Yeah, it turned out he was seeing someone else.
S: You must be joking!
D: It was her best friend!
S: No way!

In this section, you saw how to show interest, understanding and surprise. How many of the responses can you remember?

Showing interest:

  • Really? That’s great!
  • Sounds nice!
  • Is that right?

Showing understanding:

  • I see
  • Oh yeah?
  • Uh-huh

Showing surprise:

  • Seriously?
  • You must be joking!
  • No way!

D: I think we’re done here, right?
S: I don’t think so, actually.

2. How to Agree and Disagree

Natural English Conversation Responses - Yeah image

D: That last episode of Game of Thrones was amazing!
S: For sure!

[…]

S: I really like Sarah’s new haircut. It looks great on her.
D: Absolutely!

[…]

D: People shouldn’t be so negative, especially if they don’t have anything to contribute themselves.
S: I couldn’t agree more!

Of course, sometimes you might NOT agree with the other person. How could you respond then?

D: I’m glad Eric got the promotion to be our team leader. He’s such a great guy!
S: I’m not so sure about that.

[…]

S: I think I’m going to take my husband to a spa. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.
D: You really think so?

[…]

D: The media should stop talking about celebrities getting together and breaking up. Who cares?!
S: I don’t see it that way; if people want to read about it, why not let them?

In this section, you’ve seen three phrases you can use to agree, and three phrases to disagree. Can you remember them all?

To agree:

  • For sure!
  • Absolutely!
  • I couldn’t agree more!

To disagree:

  • I’m not so sure about that.
  • You really think so?
  • I don’t see it that way.

S: Next, how about some language to respond to suggestions?
D: Great idea!

3. How to Respond to Suggestions

Whenever you want to make plans with friends, decide on a place to have dinner or plan a meeting with colleagues, you’ll need to respond to other people’s suggestions.

Let’s see how you can do this.

D: Why don’t we go for a bike ride this Saturday?
S: Sorry, I can’t on Saturday. What about Sunday?
D: Okay, Sunday it is!

[…]

S: It’s Rita’s birthday tomorrow. How about we buy her a bottle of wine from the team?
D: I’m not sure if she likes wine. Maybe we can get her some flowers and chocolate?
S: That sounds good!

[…]

D: What do you think of this colour for the living room?
S: I don’t know… It looks quite dark. I think it’ll make the room feel gloomy. Can we try a lighter shade?
D: Yeah, sure.

Here, you saw three phrases you can use to reject a suggestion, and three phrases to accept. Can you remember any of them?

Here are the phrases you saw; pause the video if you need more time to read:

Rejecting a suggestion:

  • Sorry, I can’t…
  • I’m not sure if…
  • I don’t know…

Accepting a suggestion:

  • (Sunday) it is!
  • That sounds good!
  • Yeah, sure.

You can see that it’s common to use a vague phrase to reject a suggestion, like I’m not sure or I don’t know. This is important as a non-native speaker of English: people are often more indirect when saying ‘no’ to something.

Of course, this depends on the culture you’re in, and the people you’re with. However, it’s a good idea to remember that if you make a suggestion, and people reply in very vague ways, they will often be saying ‘no’ to your idea.

S: I’m confused about what Daniel means… If only there was some way I could ask him to clarify what he said.

4. How to Ask for Repetition or Clarification

Natural English Conversation Responses - people talking near computer image

D: My computer just crashed, I think it has a virus.

S: You should start it in Safe Mode and run a virus scan.

D: You’ve lost me. What’s “safe mode”?

S: It’s a special way to start your computer, use F8 when you turn on the computer and it will start the system in safe mode.

D: Sorry, I didn’t catch that; could you say it one more time?

S: So, press F8 as soon as you turn on the computer, and when the system starts, you can scan for viruses.

D: Okay, so, you mean that I need to turn on the computer, press F8, and then run the virus scan?

S: That’s right.

D: And then what?

S: It depends what the virus scan shows.

D: Hold on, are you saying that I might have to do more stuff after that? This sounds like a huge hassle.

S: Well, sure. If you have a virus or other malware, you’ll need to remove it.

D: I think I’ll just take it to the shop.

S: Suit yourself!

It’s common not to understand exactly what someone else said, even for native speakers.

Even if you understood, you might need more information. In these cases, you can use these phrases to ask for clarification.

  • You’ve lost me.
  • Sorry, I didn’t catch that; could you say it one more time?
  • Okay, so, you mean that…
  • Hold on, are you saying that…

Now, you’ve learned some natural conversational responses to deal with many different situations in English.

Let’s practice what you’ve learned!

5. Practice

Now it’s time to practise!

We’ll show you some phrases which you need to respond to.

Depending on the situation, there are often different ways in which you can respond.

Let’s do an example together!

Here’s a phrase:

  • I need to go to the shop to buy couscous.

And here are three possible responses:

  1. Why don’t we go together?
  2. Okay, I see.
  3. You’ve lost me. What’s couscous?

You can respond with a suggestion: “Why don’t we go together?”

Maybe you just want to show you understood, so you say: “Okay, I see”.

But, maybe you don’t understand what your friend needs to buy, so you ask: “You’ve lost me. What’s couscous?”

For the next phrases, think of responses you would give.

We’ll show some examples on the screen, but of course, there are many good ways to respond!

Ready? Here’s your first sentence.

  • Last weekend I finally bought a new phone, but when I got home and opened the box, it turned out they had given me the wrong one!

How would you respond?

  1. Is that right?
  2. No way!
  3. You must be joking!

Here’s another one. Think about how you would respond.

  • Justin Bieber is the best singer in the world; I can’t wait to go to his concert!
  1. Absolutely!
  2. I’m not so sure about that.
  3. Okay, so do you mean that you actually like his music?

Let’s do one more:

  • How about we go hiking in the mountains this weekend?
  1. That sounds good!
  2. Sorry, I don’t follow; what’s ‘hiking’?
  3. Seriously?

Thanks for watching!

Gina MaresNatural English Conversation Responses – Video Lesson