Topics of Conversation When Speaking English

Some topics of conversation (especially religion, money and politics) are sensitive – we tend to avoid speaking about them with people until we know them well.

If you want to get to know someone better, be careful about the types of question you ask. English speakers tend to be indirect (rather than direct) with people they don’t know well, and the following questions, although grammatically accurate, would sound too direct for a first conversation:

What’s your job?
Do you have a boyfriend / girlfriend?
What’s your opinion of politics in this country?

Instead, try asking in a different way.

1. Use an introductory phrase

So then, what do you do for a living?
Can I ask you, do you use English in your job?

2. Don’t be too obvious with personal questions

Do you have family here?
What brought you to (London)?

These questions ask for personal information indirectly, rather than directly.

3. Make a brief comment about a situation, rather than asking for an opinion.

Politics is a sensitive topic. If you’re curious about someone’s opinion, you could make a brief comment and wait to hear what the other person says:

Terrible situation at the moment, isn’t it.
It’s such a hard time to find work now, isn’t it.


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