Updated: Aug 24, 2021
Have you ever felt "stuck" in a conversation and wondered how you could keep it going? Or what you could do to take small talk to the next level?
If so, you’re not alone!
Here are some of the most common kinds of questions you can ask during an English conversation to keep it going.
Ask “What About You?”
If you don’t already use “What about you?”, add it to your conversation toolbox now! It’s one of the easiest ways to keep a conversation going.
For example, if your conversation partner asks if you like horror movies, you can answer the question and then ask them the same thing with “What about you?”:
In a conversation with more than two people, it’s also a good way to bring the third or fourth person into the conversation.
Asking someone for reasons is a good way to expand the conversation. However, asking “why” can sometimes be too direct.
So it’s often better to use one of the following:
Why is that?
You can think of “how come?” as a shorter form of “how did you reach that opinion?”
In addition to asking “why,” you can also ask questions that start with “how.” Why and How questions are open-ended.
Here are some How questions you can ask:
How did you get into this hobby?
How did you reach that conclusion?
Ask “What do you think?”
Another great way to develop a conversation is to ask someone their opinion on something. Here are three ways you can do this!
What do you think about this?
How do you feel about this?
What are your thoughts on this?
“This” in the questions above can be replaced with whatever you want to ask about. For example, “What do you think about climate change?”
Keep in mind that “think” as a verb is used with “about”: “What do you think about this?” But the noun form, “thought” is used with “on”: What are your thoughts on this?”
Ask “So What?”
“So what?” means, “So why does that matter?” However, don’t use this phrase with everyone, because it can seem rude!
Instead, it’s usually safer to use one of the following:
What do you mean by that?
Why does that matter?
How does that relate to the topic at hand?
However, if you want to soften these questions more, you can use the phrase, “Sorry, but ….” For example:
Sorry, but what do you mean by that?
Sorry, but why does that matter?
Sorry, but how does that relate to the topic at hand?
Ask “What if?”
Hypothetical questions usually ask “what” you might do “if” something happened. That’s why they’re also called “What if” questions. While they don’t have to start with “What if …,” many do include “if” statements:
Depending on the topic you’re discussing, you can ask about hypothetical situations, such as:
What if they gave you an increase? Would you still want to quit?
What if your friend apologised to you? Would you forgive her?
If you were the one planning the event, what would you do differently?
“Tell Me More!”
Finally, “if all else fails,” ask the person to tell you more about something.
Interesting. Tell me more about this!
Could you tell me more about that?
I’d love to hear more about that.
Time to Practice!
So now that you know that instead of "Who", "What", "Where", and "When", you’ll want to use more "How", "Why", and "What If" questions to open up your English conversations.
Most of us are not naturally good at conversations, so we need to practice.
If you’re looking for a safe environment to do this, our tutors are here for you 24/7 and have helped hundreds of students improve their conversation skills, whether for business or personal life!