Simple Requests for Information

1. Jeremy is from Hampshire.             Oh really, where?                               Basingstoke.

2. Kelly is a saleswoman.                     Is that right? What company?          Microsoft.

3. He's a university student.               Oh. Which university?                        London Metropolitan.

4. Rhonda lives in Texas.                     Really? Which city (in Texas)?          Dallas.

5. I work in a restaurant.                     Oh really? Which restaurant?          Frankie and Benny's.

6. I live in London.                                 Where in London?                             Canary Wharf.

7. Where are you from?                       I'm from Brazil.                                  Do you like it here?

8. What is your occupation?               I'm a language tutor.                         How long have you been doing that (job)?



Very Simple YES/NO Questions:

Are you from Brazil?

Is he a doctor?

Is this hot?

Do you like apples?

Does she live in Liverpool?

Yes, I am.

No, he isn't.

Yes, it is.

Yes, I do.

No, she doesn't.

Is she going to the party?

Are they flying home?

Are you coming out?

Yes, she is.

No, they're taking the train.

No, I have other plans.

Simple W/H Questions: 

What do you do (as an occupation)?      I'm a computer programmer.

What do you do at the weekends?          I usually visit my friends and go to church.

Where are you from?                               I'm from Brazil.

Where do you live?                                  I live in London.

Where, in a house or a flat?                     I live in a flat.

How do you spell your name?                  S-M-I-T-H.

How do you know Derek?                         He's my teacher.



"Where are you from?"

"I'm from São Paulo."

"Oh really? What part of São Paulo?"

Notice the use of "really" in that example. Its use can allow a conversation to continue through asking an add-on question. 


"I'm from America."

"Really? Is this your first time here?"


"I live in South Quay."

"Really? Isn't that close to Canary Wharf?"


"I work as an engineer."

"Oh really? In which field?"


You can also use "really" and follow it with a statement of your own that relates to the other person's statement.



"I'm from Ireland."

"Oh really? My grandfather's family came from Cork"


"I live in Tokyo."
"Oh really? I have a friend in Osaka."


"I am an airline pilot."

"Really? I have a private pilot's licence."



Ask W/H questions and combine them with "really" to find out more information.



"Where are you working these days?"

"I work in Harrods."

"Really? What do you do there?"

"I work in the warehouse, in the Despatch Office."


Asking for Information

1. What is this?                      This is a table.

2. What is that?                     That is a chair.

3. What's this?                       It's a pen.

4. What's that?                      It's an apple.

5. What are these?               These are pencils. 

6. What are those?               Those are books.

7. Where is Mr. King?           He is over there.

8. Where is Ms. Knight?       She's (right) here.

9. Where's Johnny?               He's in the house.

10. When's the movie?         It's at 9:00.

11. When's lunch?                 Lunch is at noon.

12. How is the food?             It's delicious.




Ask simple information questions, using appropriate W/H words.  Button


"How are you [doing] today?"

"I'm fine. Thanks."


"Where is the Boss today?"

"He's gone to a meeting with the accountant."



"What's in the lunch-box today?"

"Corned beef and lettuce [sandwiches], an energy bar and an apple. I'm on a diet."


"Who's that with Gillian?"

"That's the Pastor from her church."

"Why's he here?"

"She asked him for some advice on a personal matter."


Notice the use of abbreviations "what's", "who's", "that's", "why's" replacing "what is", "who is", "that is", "why is". The English like to shorten conversational sentences as much as possible, and so use abbreviations like these to do so.


In these examples we will be using three people. Ann knows both Ben and Carol, but they do not know each other.


ANN: Have you two met each other?

BEN: No, we haven't.

ANN: Ben, this is Carol. Carol this is Ben.

(Carol and Ben smile and shake hands, or air kiss if socially appropriate.)

BEN: Nice to meet you Carol.

CAROL: (Nice to meet) you too, Ben.


After you have been introduced to someone new, it is polite to ask a few general* questions to get acquainted.


BEN: Where are you from, Carol?

CAROL: I'm from Zimbabwe.

BEN: Really? Zimbabwe? Which part?

CAROL: Harare, the capital. How about you?

BEN: South Carolina. A place called River Bend. It's a small backwater near Charleston.

CAROL: You've lost your accent?

BEN: I've lived in London for over thirty years.


Notice the use of the statement "You've lost your accent?" as a question. In print this is easy to show with a "?" - question mark. In conversation you must remember to raise the pitch of your voice at the end of the sentence to indicate that this is a query. [Similar to the Brazilian method of asking questions.]



*NOTE When meeting someone for the first time, it is not appropriate to ask certain types of question:


Do NOT ask:

A person's age or birth date.

Their salary.

Their weight.

Their marital status


You MAY ask general questions about the situation:   Button

CAROL: How do you know Ann?


BEN: Is this your first visit?


BEN: What do you do (for a living)?

CAROL: I work as an analyst for IBM.

BEN: Really? How long have you worked for them?


Identifying People and Things


This is Vicky Potter.

That is Doctor Morgan.


Vicky is a writer.

Doctor Morgan is an American.

He is a mechanic.

She is an engineer.

He's a banker.

She's a dentist.


I am a data programmer.

I'm a businessman.

I'm a businesswoman.

I'm not a plumber, I'm a heating engineer.


We are writers.

They are students.

You were a patient of mine.

You are athletes.


This is an apple.

This is a banana.

That is an orange.

That's not an orange, it is a mandarin.

It's a cart horse.

It's not a donkey.


NOTE  the use of abbreviations "he's", "she's", "I'm", "that's", "it's"


It is important to practise English conversation every day. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes each day to speak only English. Across the breakfast table, or at lunch, perhaps.


Point to people (with your open hand, not with your finger) and tell (an)other person(s) who they are and something about them..


"This is Sophie. She's a news reporter with the BBC."

"This is Arnie. He was a movie star. He'll be back."


Introduce yourself to a group of people and tell them what you do for a living [your occupation]. 080


"I'm John Glenn. I was an astronaut with the Mercury and Apollo programmes."


"I'm Bonnie Parker. I rob banks for a living."



Practise with a partner, making these introductions.

With your partner practice pointing to objects and describing them, or asking questions about them.




Introduce your family

These are my parents.

This is my mother/This is my mum.

This is my father/This is my dad.

This is my husband.

This is my wife.

I have three siblings. My brother, Dom, is the eldest, and I have an older sister, Gladys and then there's Penny, who is younger than me.


[That sentence contains a broad statement and then greater detail. How much you share depends on the social situation.]


I have two brothers. One brother is older than me, the other is my twin.

I have one sister.

I have three sisters. I'm the baby of the family.


Asking about family


"How many brothers and sisters do you have?"

"What number are you?" "I'm the oldest (of three children)."

"How many children do you have?" "We have two. A boy and a girl."

"Do you have any kids?" "No. I'm not married."


Answering questions about family


"She's the youngest of five."

"Barb doesn't have any siblings."

"I'm an only child."


It is up to you how much information you supply in answering questions. In some social situations you may not feel comfortable doing more than answering a question with a plain statement. At other times, giving a little more information, such as a sibling's name, may allow you to expand your conversation. Beware of turning an answer into a long monologue.



Talk about your family

[If you have a family photograph, you may wish to use it here.]


"There are five people in my family. My mum, dad, older brother, younger sister and me."


"There are five of us. Mum, Dad, Jackie, Diane and me"

[NOTE here "Mum" and "Dad" have initial capitals because they are being used as names (proper nouns). In the previous example they are used only as nouns.]


"My mother is a dentist.  My father is a heart surgeon. I have two younger sisters."


OR (while showing a photograph)


"This is my grandma...My dad...And this is me, age nine."


Ask a friend about their family, listen to their answers and ask appropriate, related questions.


"How many brothers and sisters do you have, Rachel?"

"I just have one sister."

"What's her name?"


"What  does she do?"

"She's a student at Keele University."

"What's she studying?"

"Electronics and engineering."


Talking about here and now

1. What is Ms Chan doing now?               She is writing a letter.                              In that case, I'll come back later.

2. What is he doing?                                  He's playing hockey.                                  Is he any good (at it)?

3. What are you doing?                             I'm reading a book.                                   Is it interesting?

4. Who is singing that song?                    Frank (is).                                                    He's very good.

5. Who is washing the dishes?                The children are.                                        You've got them well trained!

6. Where are you going now?                 To the library, to study.                             Good luck with that.


Look at these pictures and say what the people in them are doing. 






This father and son are washing their car. The father has two sponges. The son has one sponge and is holding the hose. The car is covered in soap suds.

This little girl is sitting on the floor in front of the television. Beside her is a bowl of popcorn. The TV is switched off, but she is holding the remote control. She is going to watch a programme.







Look at this picture of bus passengers. Can you describe what they are doing?




Where do you think this is? What can you see in this picture? What are these people doing?

The young man on the left is showing his girlfriend something on his phone. She is holding a cup of coffee. Behind them, three girls are gossiping. On the right, two girls are having a conversation. One of them is also holding a coffee cup.


This is a shopping centre. People are walking past stalls of goods. One of the stallholders is trying to interest a woman in a red coat in his products. Other shoppers are talking to a woman in a dark skirt and top.


Talking about the future


1. What will you do tomorrow?

2. When will we finish?

3. What will we do in class today?

4. Where will they put the table?

5. When will Joe leave for New York?

6. How will she get there?

I'll help my mum with the housework.

You'll be finished in the afternoon.

We'll play some word games.

They'll put it next to the window.

He'll leave right after dinner.

She'll take the bus.

7. What will the cat do with the mouse?  It'll eat it.



The use of "will" in the questions above, and it's abbreviated forms "I'll" [I will], "You'll" [You will], "We'll" [We will], "They'll" [They will], "He'll" [He will],

"She'll" [She will] and "It'll" [It will]. These are the long form answers to questions about the future.

As with other parts of English, it is possible to shorten the answers further:


1. Help my mum with the housework.

2. In the afternoon.

3. Play some word games.

4. Next to the window.

5. Right after dinner.

6. By bus. (Or: Take the bus.)

7. Eat it.


Another way of talking about the future is with the phrase "be going to" + verb.

I am going to the theatre
Joe is going to stay home.

What are you going to see?
I'm going to see 'Tonight's The Night'.

How are you going to get there?
I'm going to take a cab.

For further information about verb tenses, click here.



"What are you going to do this weekend?"


- "I'm going to a (football) match with my mates."

- "I will be having a few friends over."


You have just won £1 million on the National Lottery. What would you do with the money?


"First, I'll pay off my student loan. Then I'll take a long holiday. I think I'll go to South America."



Because you are being asked to speculate about winning £1 million, your answers will also be speculative. This means that you must use "will" and not "going to".


Pretend that you need help organising a party for the weekend. You should try asking for volunteers.

"Who will help me with the food?"

"We will."

"Thanks. Scott, will you bring some drinks?"

"Sure. I'll get some beers in?"

"Not everyone drinks beer. Can't we have some wine?"

"Okay. I've got a couple of bottles, I'll bring them."


You are working on an important business project and need someone from your team to work late to get it finished.


Can anyone help out by staying late tonight? We’ve got to get this project in tomorrow morning.

I’ll stay. I wasn’t planning to do anything this evening anyway.

Thanks. I’ll sign for your overtime.



Talking about Feelings/Health Issues

How's the weather today?

How do you feel?

How are you feeling?

Is everything okay?

What's wrong?

What's the matter?

Are you all right?

What happened?

It's really cold.

I'm fine.

Not too good.

I feel sick.

I have a headache.

My leg hurts.

I cut my hand.

He broke his arm.

Let's stay inside.

That's good.

Sorry to hear that.

That's too bad.

Here's some aspirin

Let me help you.

That looks serious.

Call 999!




Ask your friend how he/she feels.

Respond with an appropriate reply.  

"How are you feeling today?"

"Not very good. I think I must have picked up a bug."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Have you taken anything for it?"

"No. I'll tough it out."



"How do you feel today?"

"A lot better, thanks. I had a good night's sleep."

"That works for you?"

"Yes. I don't like taking medicines."


"How are you?"

"Fine. How about you?"

"Never better, thanks."


You or your friend are hurt or injured -


"I bashed my elbow, right on the funny bone."

"Ouch! I bet that hurts."

"I've got pins and needles in my fingers."

"Give it a few minutes. You'll be okay."


"Ow! I've cut my finger."

"Let me see. Oh, it's just a scratch. You should be more careful."


"That man just collapsed!"

"Call 999. Get an ambulance."

"Don't you know how to do CPR?"

"Only what I've seen on TV. I don't want to hurt him."

"It would be better to bruise his chest than watch him die."



How to discuss your favourite things


What are your favourite things?



"My favourite colour is red."

"I prefer cool colours like pale blue, or pastel shades."



"Football is my favourite sport."

"Yes but can you explain the off-side rule?"


"My favourite sport is cricket."

"I can't stand the game. It's so slow. I prefer hockey."



"My favourite food is steak and chips."

"I'm a vegetarian. I cannot eat anything that had eyes."


"What kind of food do you like?"

"I love fish and chips, straight from the paper, with plenty of salt and vinegar."

"I like pie and mash, with extra liquor."



"My favourite movie of all time is 'A Matter of Life and Death'."

"Mine is 'Gravity'."


"What is your favourite type of film? Action, comedy, horror, what?"

"I love rom-coms like 'Sleepless in Seattle'."

"I like sci-fi and action movies: anything that is escapist."


Going Shopping

A simple example:

 Where are the pencils?

How much is this mirror?

How much does this cost?

How much are these?

Do you have any t-shirts?

That comes to £26.59.

That will be £17.48.

They're on the second shelf.

It's £19.95.

That one is £5.00.

They're £4.00 each.

What size? Medium or Large?

Here's £30.00.

Here's £17.50. Keep the change.

Okay, thanks.

Okay. I'll take it.

How about this one?

That's too expensive.


Your change is £3.41.

Oh thanks.




Go  into a shop to buy something.

You should ask for help finding what you want, ask its price or ask for alternative suggestions from the assistant. Then take the item(s) to the checkout and pay for them.


"May I help you?"

"Yes. I'm looking for fork handles."

"Four candles?"

"No, handles for forks."

"They're leaning against that wall."

"Thank you."


"How much are these boots?"

"One hundred and fifty pounds, in the sale."

"Do you have them in a (size) five?"

"Only in brown."

"Oh. I really wanted the black (ones)."

"How about these? They're available in your size."

" Thanks, but I think the heels are too high for me."

"Why not try them on. They're very comfortable."

"Alright. I will. They do look really nice."


"Can I pay here?"

"Certainly. Will that be all?"

"Yes, I think so. I need to save something for the weekend."

"That comes to £40.99, including VAT."

"Here you are."



Suggested items that you can practice "buying" from a friend: