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January 28, 2019

7 Ways to Start Conversations in American English

Making conversations with Americans
Some foreigners in the US learning English hesitate to start conversations with native speakers. If you can relate to this, this post is for you. I'd like to share some common questions you can ask your American colleagues, classmates or friends to start conversations. 


  1. Ask about their day
  2. You could talk about something you really want to try
    • I heard there are good coffee shops in the US (or say the city you are in, Seattle, for instance is known for coffee). Where can I go to try some good coffee?
    • Where is a good place to go for [coffee]
  3. Learn about their background
    • Where are you from? (Ask anyone, citizen or not.)
    • Are you originally from [name of city you are in]? (Ask a classmate or colleague you think/guess grew up in the US.)
    • What part of the US are you from?" or "Where are you from in the US?" (Ask a colleague or classmate you know has moved around a lot.)
  4. Talk about the weather
    • It was a little cool this morning. Is it typical weather for this time of year.
    • I felt a bit cold today, but maybe it's cause I'm not used to this weather. It doesn't snow where I am from.

  5. English as Second Language Video Tutorial: How's the weather?

  6. Find our where people like to go out to eat
    • Where are some good places for lunch/dinner?
    • Where do you like to go out for lunch (or dinner)?
  7. Weekend Plans
  8. How your classmates or colleagues get to work or school
    • How do you come to work/school?
    • Do you take the bus to work?
    • Note: Instead of saying 'bus' or 'train,' locals may use the local brand name of the public transit, like Trax in  Salt Lake City, The T in Boston, Marta in Atlanta, Valley Metro in Phoenix or the RTC in Las Vegas. For instance, "Do you take the Trax to work?"

What other conversational openers have you used? Feel free to share your experiences using these or other starters and how they worked out for you.

Jennifer Kumar helps newcomers to the US get adjusted to American culture and be successful with their US classmates and/or colleagues. See our program on Small Talk with Americans or get in touch with us to start your personalized success program!

Related Posts:
How to talk to someone you don't know for the first time 
Building Relationships in the US with Onsite Teams
Small talk is not a viva, test, or interrogation

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.