20 Essential English Phrases for Daily Conversation


Vanessa: Hi.

I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com.

What do native English speakers really say in daily conversation?

Let's talk about it.

Vanessa: Recently, during daily conversation, I've noticed that a lot of the same phrases

come up again and again.

And I think that even in different cultures these same situations happen in conversation.

I want to help you use the best, most natural phrases so today we're going to talk about

20 phrases that are essential for daily conversation.

These phrases fit into five different categories: someone tells you about changing plans, someone

tells you something surprising, someone invites you somewhere, you want to tell or ask someone

something briefly, or you want to wish someone well.

Vanessa: So let's start with the first category, which is what can you say when someone tells

you about changing plans.

Recently, our babysitter told us that she had already scheduled something on the same

day that she told us she could come to our house and watch our two-year-old.

Thankfully, I didn't really have something planned for that time that she was going to


I just wanted some free time.

So what could I have told her in that situation?

She's changing our plans, and she feels kind of bad.

I'm so sorry.

I forgot that I already had this other thing scheduled.

What can I say to her?

Don't worry about it.

No worries.

No problem.

No biggie.

Things happen.

I could have said all five of these, in fact.

Let's go through each of them.

Vanessa: I used don't worry about it because she was pretty apologetic that she had to

change her plans with us.

I don't want her to worry about causing us any discomfort.

Don't worry about it.

It's no problem.

No worries.

No biggie.

Those are pretty casual expressions that are common in daily conversation.

Vanessa: What about that last one?

Things happen.

What is things?

It means situations.

We're all human, I think.

And it's human to double-book sometimes, to forget you had other plans.

So these situations happen occasionally.

Things happen.

Don't worry about it.

It's not a big deal.

Vanessa: Another common expression is things come up.

But this wouldn't have been appropriate in the situation with the babysitter because

things come up means that some situations happen unexpectedly.

Maybe your mom's car breaks down and you have to take her to work so you can't come and

babysit like you said you would.


That's an unexpected situation.

Things come up.

You know, no biggie.

Things come up.

But for the babysitter, she just forgot that she double-booked.

So this didn't arise unexpectedly.

It was just something that she forgot.

But if there is some unexpected situation, you can say, "Things come up.

It happens.

No biggie."

Vanessa: Let's go on to the next category.

What can you say when someone tells you something surprising?

A couple years ago, my brother-in-law was searching for a job as an actuary.

He'd been searching for a job for a year all over the US, and I knew that it was a big

process for him.

It was something that he really wanted to do, but it was tough to find a job, especially

a starting position.

But, one day he got two job offers in the same day.

It was amazing.

One job offer was in Richmond, Virginia and one was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where

my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law are both originally from.

So now they had a choice.

Which one were they going to take?

Which city were they going to move to?

What could I have said in that situation when he surprisingly got a job offer and a second

job offer in the same day?


No way.



How do you feel about that?

All four of these sentences, it's key to have a positive tone of voice when you're using


Vanessa: When I said, "What?"

Did you hear this kind of uplifted tone?


I didn't say, "What?"

If I said it with that negative tone, it can have a completely different meaning.

Same with the others.

You could say, "No way," with a smile on your face.

You're surprised and excited.

No way.

You got two job offers?

But if you want to say this in a negative way, no way.

Do you see how that really changes the tone and the feel of this sentence?

Same with the next one.



That uplifted tone in my voice.



I'm so excited for you.

But we could say this negatively.



You're questioning this.



I don't think that's a good idea.



But I didn't say it like that to my brother-in-law because I wanted to show excitement.



Vanessa: The last question, how do you feel about that, is a little bit ambiguous because

he had two offers, two different places, two choices.

And for the first time in a year he actually could choose where his family was going to


That's a big decision.

So I wanted to know what his feelings were.

How do you feel about that?


Now it's real.

Instead of just this job search, this is real life.

You actually are going to go somewhere and get a different job.

How do you feel about that?

If you wanted to say in a more negative way, change the tone of your voice.

How do you feel about that?

Especially emphasizing that at the end.

How do you feel about that?

It's a little bit more serious if you just use a more serious tone of voice.

Vanessa: Let's go on to the next category of common daily expressions, which is when

someone invites you somewhere.

I recently had a baby.

And as you can imagine, life is busy and hectic right now.

I can't really go out and just do stuff as easily as I used to be able to do, especially

in this period right now right after having the baby.

Before the baby was born, I often took my two-year-old three or four times a week to

go see some friends.

It's good for him to play with other kids, but it was also good for me to be able to

spend time with my friends who are their parents.

Vanessa: But now when someone says, "Hey, Vanessa, do you want to go to the park this


I might have a slightly different answer, at least for a short time period while I'm

still learning about my new life.

What can I say in that situation?

I hate to miss out, but I'm really tired today, or but I don't think I can go.

I hate to miss out but ... And then you need to say that clear statement.

I can't go.

But I'm tired.

But I'm too busy.

I hate to miss out.

You don't want to miss out on the fun, but something else has happened.

Or you could say, "I'd love to, but I'm really tired today."

I'd love to.

So we're using hate and love, but it's also important that we include the final part of

this sentence.

I hate to miss out, but I'm tired.

I'd love to, but I'm tired.

Vanessa: What if I actually could go?

What can you say?


Sounds good," or, "Sure.

Sounds good to me."

This is a very clear, casual way to respond.

Yeah, I can go.


Sounds good.

Sounds good to me.

Or if you have a specific event or maybe you're at work and you can't get to the invited event

at a specific time that they want you to be there, you could say, "I get off at 2:00,

but I can get there by 2:30."

I get off.

This means get off work.

I get off at 2:00, but I can get there.

We're using get in both sides of this sentence.

But I can get there by 2:30.

By here is saying the minimum time.

I'm not going to get there at 2:15.

It would be shocking if I got there at 2:00 because I get off at 2:00, but I can get there

by 2:30.

That's the average time that I'll probably arrive.

But I can get there by 2:30.

Vanessa: Just a quick note.

If you have ever studied British English, I often hear British English speakers say,

"I can't be bothered."

If someone invites you to something, a British English speaker might decline by saying I

can't be bothered.

In the US, this is extremely strange to say, and it also feels rude.

So the word bothered means I'm annoyed that you asked me or this is irritating to me.

If that person is familiar with British English expressions, maybe they won't feel like you're

being rude.

But I recommend in the US do not say I can't be bothered.

You might hear this in British English, but in the US don't use this to decline an invitation.

I can't be bothered.

It is not an Americanism.

It sounds quite odd in the US.

Vanessa: All right.

Let's go to our next category.

What should you do when you want to tell or ask someone something briefly?

Well, some people just live with their husband.

Some people raise kids together.

Some people raise kids together and run a business together like us.

So as you can imagine, we have to communicate a lot about pretty much every level of our

lives about what we're eating for every meal, who's watching our kids when, who's working

on what when, different creative ideas about the business.

We have to communicate about a lot.

Vanessa: So I often ask my husband, "Hey, can I tell you something really quick?"

Hey, can I tell you something really quick?

If he's involved in another task, I don't want to assume that he can easily switch to

whatever I'm thinking about.

So I want to introduce it with this question.

Hey, can I ask you something really quick?

Hey, can I tell you something really quick?

And maybe his answer is, "Oh, no.

I'm doing something.

Can you talk to me in 10 minutes?"

That's fine.

But if I just launched right in and said, "Hey, what do you think about this?" his brain

might be on a completely different track doing something with our kids or maybe doing something

with work, so it's good to introduce this.

Vanessa: You can also use this in a workplace situation in a typical office.

If you have two coworkers who are talking together and you need to tell one of them

something briefly, you could use this as kind of a polite interruption.

Hey, can I tell you something really quick?

It means they can continue their conversation in five seconds, but you just want to tell

that person something really quick.

Vanessa: On the other hand, in small talk, when you want to ask someone briefly about

some recent event, like a holiday, Christmas, or an interview, or an exam, or the weekend,

you can just simply say, "How'd your Christmas go?

How'd the exam go?

How'd the interview go?

How'd your weekend go?"

How'd plus the event go.

You're usually looking for a simple answer like, "Oh, it was great.

I had a nice time.

Oh, it was too short."

Some kind of quick answer for small talk.

Vanessa: I don't recommend using this for something that you know is going to be long

and complicated.

I'd be a little bit surprised if a native English speaker said, just kind of in small

talk, "Hey, how'd your birth go?"

If you have ever experienced birth or been around it, that is a long, complicated story

that is also quite emotional, so it's not really for quick small talk conversations

maybe in the grocery store.

In these type of situations, you're going to want to have simpler questions like, "Hey,

how'd your weekend go?

Hey, how'd your holidays go?"


This kind of short small question.

Vanessa: Another quick note, do not say we need to talk or I want to talk with you.

This is the most scary sentence to any English speaker.

If you said to me, "Vanessa, we need to talk."


I feel like I've done something terrible.

What did I do?

I'm in trouble.

I'm either going to get fired, you're going to break up with me, something awful that

I've done that I didn't mean to do has happened.

So be very cautious.

If you are upset with someone and you want them to feel extremely nervous, send them

a text message that says we need to talk.


They probably won't be able to focus on anything else for the rest of the day, so be careful.

Use this in the correct way or just don't use it at all.

Instead, you can just interrupt a conversation quickly and say, "Hey, can I tell you something

really quick?2 No problem.

But if you say, "We need to talk," or, "Do you have a minute to talk?" it's going to

make someone feel really nervous.

So be cautious about that statement.

Vanessa: Let's go to our final category, which is wishing someone well.

I find myself wishing people well a lot in daily life.

Maybe it's when they're about to go on a new date, when they have a job interview, or when

they're just doing something simple like taking their two kids to the grocery store.

Hope it goes well.

There's a couple different sentences that you can use to wish someone well.

The most simple is have a good time at the lake.

Have a good interview.

Have a good time at the grocery store.

Have a good ... You're wishing them well.

Vanessa: Or you could be more straightforward and say, "Hope your interview goes well.

Hope your date goes well."

We often cut out the subject I just to be a little more casual.

Hope your interview goes well.

You could say, "I hope your interview goes well," but it feels a little bit more serious.

If you're just saying goodbye to your friend, you've been talking about they have an interview

coming up, and then you're saying goodbye, it's more common to say, "Hope your interview

goes well," instead of, "I hope your interview goes well."

It's much more serious.

I hope your interview goes well.

It's a little more serious when you add the subject.

Vanessa: Or you might say, "Fingers crossed."

This is usually accompanied with this kind of crossing fingers with your middle and your

pointer finger gesture.

You could use one fingers crossed or you might use two fingers crossed.

If they say, "Okay, I'm about to go to my interview.

I hope it goes well.

Fingers crossed," or if you are taking your two children to the grocery store and you're

a little bit worried that things might get crazy, one of your friends might say, "Fingers


It's going to be tough, but you got this."

Vanessa: And that's our next expression.

You got this.

You got this.

It doesn't mean you received some kind of package.

It just means you can do this.

You got this.

You got this.

Or you can say, "Don't sweat it.

Don't sweat it."

Sweat is the liquid that comes from your face when you're hot or when you're nervous.

This often happens when you have a big situation.

So you need to say, "Don't sweat it.

You can do it.

You got this."

We often combine these together.

Vanessa: When I film these YouTube lessons, it's my husband who watches our two-year-old

and our newborn.

And the first time that he watched both of them alone by himself, I said, "Don't sweat


You got this.

You can do it.

Don't sweat it."

It's great to combine them to wish someone well in an extreme situation.

This isn't really extreme, but in some new situation.

Vanessa: Whew.

That was a lot of daily expressions.

Now I have a question for you.

Let me know in the comments.

What would you say if your friend said, "I hate that I can't come to your party.

I hate that I can't come to your party."


What would you say to make them feel a little bit better?

Let me know in the comments, and thank you so much for learning English with me.

I'll see you again next Friday for a new lesson here on my YouTube channel.


Vanessa: The next step is to download my free e-book, 5 Steps to Becoming a Confident English


You'll learn what you need to do to speak confidently and fluently.

Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more free lessons.

Thanks so much.


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