28 Beginner Phrases for a Great Group Discussion

Working as a group can be tough. Knowing which phrases to use can make the whole experience easier. In this post, we’ll cover the basic phrases you’ll need to have a successful discussion.

There are quite a few different ways to react in each situation, so we’ll look at some of the really useful ones. That’s the first part. In the second part, we’ll see some example discussions. It’s quite a long post, so let’s get started!

 

Section 1: Agreeing with someone

So you like what someone has said, and you want to show that you agree with them. Use these phrases

Strong (you really agree with them)

  • I completely agree
  • I couldn’t agree with [name] more.

Neutral (you agree, but you’re not completely passionate about it)

  • I agree with you there.
  • I share your view.

On-the-fence agreement (you almost agree with them, but something isn’t completely right)

  • I agree, but… *
  • Yes, maybe, but… *

*After the ‘but’, tell them what you don’t agree with:

  • Yes, maybe, but building a road there could also hurt the habitats of the animals living there.

 

Section 2: Disagreeing with someone

The opposite of the above: someone said something that you don’t agree with in the discussion, and you want to show that you disagree. Use these:

Strong (you disagree and you want everyone to know! Be prepared to give reasons for your disagreement)

  • I don’t agree at all.
  • I disagree completely.

Polite (you disagree, but you want to be nice about it)

  • I’m afraid I disagree.
  • I’m sorry I can’t agree.
Discussion

“Hello… can you hear me?”

Section 3: Making a point and giving an opinion

You’ve got an important point to make in the discussion. Maybe you want them to agree with you. These phrases will help (note: they have different strengths):

Strong (you have really strong beliefs about this):

  • I firmly/strongly believe that + [sentence]
  • I’m convinced that + [sentence]
    • I strongly believe that this is the best option we have.

Neutral (it’s your opinion, but you’re not too passionate about it):

  • In my opinion, + [sentence]
  • I think that + [sentence]
    • I think that we should avoid the bait-and-switch marketing strategy.

Cautious (you don’t want to offend anyone):

  • From what I understand, + [sentence]
  • I would say that + [sentence]
    • From what I understand, we have two choices here.

Giving a reason why (remember to support your opinion)

  • Let me explain why I think that. Firstly, + [sentence]
  • Another reason is…
    • Another reason is that we don’t have much time to put this plan into action.

 

Section 4: Asking for clarification or more information

Maybe you don’t understand what someone is saying. Maybe you just don’t believe them and want more information. Maybe someone is asking you to repeat. Don’t just use “what did you say?” use these:

Asking for repetition (you just didn’t hear what they said)

  • Sorry, I missed what you said. Could you repeat it, please?
  • I didn’t catch that. Could you repeat what you just said?

Tip: These would also be suitable phrases to use in a speaking exam or presentation if you missed the question.

Asking for clarification (you heard what they said, but you didn’t understand it)

  • Could you explain what you mean by [the part you didn’t understand]
  • I’m not sure what you mean.
    • Could you explain what you mean by ‘these extenuating circumstances’?

Clarifying your own comments (rephrase/ use other words to explain your point)

  • In other words…*
  • The point I’m trying to make it…

*after the ‘…’, put your point into different words, or use an example.

  • In other words, we should include a reason for people to use this method.

Checking that people understand (make sure that your group know what you are talking about)

  • Do you see what I mean?
  • Does it make a bit more sense now?

Correcting misunderstandings (maybe they still don’t understand!)

  • That isn’t quite what I meant. I meant…
    • That isn’t quite what I meant. I didn’t mean we should change the focus of our presentation. I meant that we should add this section.

Tip: To help people to understand you, make sure you speak slowly and clearly

Example of discussion events 1 – You are the listener

 

This is just one possible chain of events!

This is just one possible chain of events!

BONUS: Give a reason why if you agree or disagree. See section 3.

Example of discussion events 2 – you are the speaker

discussion academic

In this example, you’re the main speaker.

These are just two examples with you as the speaker and the listener. Hopefully they make the whole process a bit easier to understand. Every discussion will be full of events like this – think of it like taking a turn in a game.

Final Words

These were the beginner phrases for use in a discussion. Like I said, these will get you through most discussions at university. But, not all of them!

The good news is that I have an Advanced Phrases post coming soon – sign up to the mailing list, and I’ll tell you when it’s ready!

About the Author Sam

Sam is the founder and creator of English For Study. He's also lecturer in EAP/Academic English. Apart from making Academic English easy, he likes learning languages, lifting weights and eating good food.

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