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!
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)
Neutral (you agree, but you’re not completely passionate about it)
On-the-fence agreement (you almost agree with them, but something isn’t completely right)
*After the ‘but’, tell them what you don’t agree with:
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)
Polite (you disagree, but you want to be nice about it)
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):
Neutral (it’s your opinion, but you’re not too passionate about it):
Cautious (you don’t want to offend anyone):
Giving a reason why (remember to support your opinion)
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)
Asking for clarification (you heard what they said, but you didn’t understand it)
Clarifying your own comments (rephrase/ use other words to explain your point)
*after the ‘…’, put your point into different words, or use an example.
Checking that people understand (make sure that your group know what you are talking about)
Correcting misunderstandings (maybe they still don’t understand!)
Tip: To help people to understand you, make sure you speak slowly and clearly
BONUS: Give a reason why if you agree or disagree. See section 3.
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.
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!
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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