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engbites1English Bites! are practical, bite-sized tips to help you improve your English for work. Published twice a week, the articles include useful advice covering different aspects of business English including grammar, vocabulary, writing, speaking as well as fun topics. It'll take just a few minutes to read each tip. You can subscribe to English Bites! from the Newsletters link above. After that, you'll receive notifications of all new tips by email.

Casual Questioning and Answering

14 Jul 2024

smalltalk2When we have casual conversations in English, we often use short words to ask and answer questions. In this short dialogue can you see the question word at the end of the Roger’s sentence?

Roger:  So you think this new software version is faster than the old one, huh?

Jerry:    I sure do! I got my work done faster than ever today!

Roger could have asked “Do you think the new software version is faster than the old one?”

This is a casual conversation between two co-workers, though, so Roger uses a statement instead of a question but ends the sentence with the question word ‘huh?’

Another way to ask a question is to end a sentence with the word ‘right?’ on a rising tone. Let's look another short dialogue.

Ted:      I had a window in my old office. And more space, too.

Susan:  You’re saying you don’t like your new office, right?

Ted:      It’s ok, but the old office was better.

Susan could have asked “Are you saying you don’t like your new office?” In casual conversations, though, you can use ‘right?’ at the end of a statement to ask the other person if you understood them correctly.

For both words ‘huh?’ and ‘right?’, you use a rising tone to let the listener know you are asking a question.

To answer questions in casual conversation, we often use words like ‘Right’, ‘Sure’, ‘OK, and ‘Got it.’

Check this short exchange.

Fabio:   Can you please tell me where the mailroom is?

Lisa:     Sure. It’s easy. Go to the end of the hall and turn right.

Fabio:   Got it. Thanks.

Lisa answers Fabio’s question about the mailroom by saying ‘Sure’. It’s a very positive, but casual way to tell him she can do what he asked. After she tells him the simple directions, he tells her he understands by saying ‘Got it’.

Here’s another dialogue using “Right” and “OK” to answer questions in casual conversation.

Karim:   We have to finish this report by the end of the week.

Erica:    OK. That shouldn’t be too hard. We have all the data, right?

Karim:   Right. I got the sales figures from Accounting this morning.

Erica says ‘OK’ to let Karim know she understands and agrees with him. When Erica asks if all the data has been received, he answers ‘Right’ to let her know what she has said is correct.


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