20 Common English Questions and Answers to Give Your Social Life a Boost
Let’s face it: “Hello! How are you?” can only get you so far in life.
Your English classes have prepared you for language exams, university classes and travel—but have they prepared you for Friday night?
One reason why learning a language is so difficult is because the materials can start to seem irrelevant for “real life.”
While it’s good to have an understanding of basic grammar, common questions, key phrases and vocabulary, it’s also important that you be able to use English to communicate with people in the real world.
- Talking to Someone New
- Asking About Someone’s Interests
- Talking to a Love Interest
- Talking to Someone You’ve Already Met
- How to Practice English Questions and Answers
- And One More Thing...
Talking to Someone New
1. What’s your name?
This is a pretty standard one to ask when you’re first meeting someone. As you can see though, there are a few different ways you this questions can be answered.
My name is Sarah.
I go by Alex.
My friends call me Sam.
2. Where are you from?
This is another introductory question that is usually asked in this simple way. There are also a variety of ways you can answer this one.
I’m from the Midwest.
I’m originally from New York City.
I was born and raised in California.
3. So, what do you do?
This question is a typical question when making small talk to get to know the other person better. It’s asking, What is your job?
To encourage further conversation and be even more polite, you want to ask about them, too.
Adding the question How about you? or And what about you? will give the other person an opportunity to respond. You’ll see this on most of the examples that follow.
Right now, I’m a student. I’m in my second year of pharmacy school. How about you? What do you do?
I work as a tour guide for a local tour company. I’ve worked there for three years now. How about you?
That’s a good question! I do a little bit of everything: some writing, some photography and some graphic design, too. What about you?
4. Can I ask how old you are?
In many countries and cultures, it’s not very polite to ask someone’s age. However, you might suspect that you are the same age or just want to be sure.
Notice that instead of asking How old are you? which is very direct, you ask it in this indirect way. If you’re the one getting asked, to make it fair, make sure you ask it right back!
Oh, I’d rather not answer.
I’m in my mid-thirties. How about you?
I just turned 28. What about you?
Asking About Someone’s Interests
5. How do you spend your free time?
This question is asking, What are your hobbies?
It’s also very common for people to ask, What do you like to do outside of work? or What do you do when you’re not busy with school?
Well, recently I started playing volleyball on the weekends.
Usually, I spend my free time doing activities with my family.
Not much really. What about you?
6. What sort of stuff do you do on the weekends?
This question is similar to the last one and is asking about weekend activities in particular. The phrase “sort of stuff” means “things” or “activities.”
It could also be a good question to ask before inviting someone to do something on the weekend.
Let’s see…I usually spend my weekends reading and relaxing at home. How about you?
Well, I tend to go to a lot of concerts. How about you?
I often don’t end up doing much after a busy week. What about you? Any plans for this weekend?
7. What’s your favorite type of food?
For this one, you can replace food with, or anything else you might be interested in finding out about. This is also a good question to ask if you’d like to have lunch or dinner with someone.
I love Italian food. I make it all the time!
I can’t get enough of Korean food. What about you?
I often go for curries or stews because they’re so delicious.
8. Have you traveled anywhere interesting recently?
This is a nice small talk question to keep the conversation going and to see if you have any places or countries in common.
I went to Japan last year and it was amazing.
I haven’t traveled much recently, but I’d love to visit Italy someday.
Not recently, but I’m planning on going to Costa Rica soon and I’m excited!
9. What have you been reading lately?
For this question, you can replace reading with watching, listening or any other activities.
I’m reading a novel by Margaret Atwood.
Not much reading, but I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about true crime lately.
I’m not much of a reader actually. What about you?
10. So, what’s your take on the latest movie?
This question is asking What’s your opinion of the latest movie? or What do you think about the latest movie?
You can ask this about movies, recent events or anything you’d like an opinion on.
Oh, I really like it! What do you think?
To be honest, I think it’s just okay. How about you?
Ehh—I’m on the fence. What’s your take?
“On the fence” is a way of saying you neither agree or disagree or you don’t know what to think about a specific topic.
11. Do you follow Stephen Colbert?
This question is asking if you’re interested in a certain topic or person and if you keep up with it/them on social media or television.
Oh, yeah! I love him/that show. Why?
Sometimes. A little bit here and there. Why?
No–actually, I haven’t heard of him. Who is he?
Talking to a Love Interest
12. Are you here with anybody?
This question is asking if you came to the event or location, like a bar or club, with another person. Usually, people ask this question as an indirect way of asking if you’re in a romantic relationship.
Yeah—I came with my boyfriend.
I just came with a bunch of my coworkers.
I came alone actually. What about you?
13. Do you feel like grabbing a bite?
This question is an invitation to leave together and get something to eat. You might also hear, Do you want to grab a bite to eat?
Actually, yeah! I’d love to. Where would you like to go?
It depends. Where are you thinking of going?
Mmm, not today. But I’d be up for grabbing a bite together later this week!
14. Would you be up for a movie sometime?
This question is asking if you’d like to do an activity together in the future. It also sounds like you might be asking someone out on a date, but it’s not completely clear.
When asking someone on a date, you can also ask Would you like to grab a coffee sometime? or Can I take you out for dinner sometime? to make your intentions more clear.
Make sure the other person knows if it’s indeed a date or not!
Let’s do it! When are you thinking of going?
It depends on what day, but yes.
I’m not really interested in seeing a movie, but thanks for asking.
15. How late are you planning on sticking around?
Depending on the place and situation, make sure that you don’t make the other person uncomfortable when asking this one.
The question is asking, What time are you going to leave?
I’ll hang around until (they cut the cake), and then I plan on heading out. How about you?
I’m not sure…I’ll just have to see how I feel. How about you?
I’ll probably give it another 30 minutes and then go home.
16. Can I walk you to the subway?
If it’s getting late and you’re not ready to say goodbye just yet, or you’re concerned for the other person walking alone, you can ask this question.
Other ways you can ask are, Do you mind if I walk with you to the bus stop? or Should I walk with you to the train? Be mindful to respect their answer whatever it is.
Sure, I’d really appreciate that.
That would be nice! Are you headed in that direction, too?
Thanks a lot, but I can manage on my own.
Talking to Someone You’ve Already Met
17. How’s summer treating you?
This question is asking about a specific part of your life, like your summer, your job or any other major event in your life.
It’s another way of asking, How is your summer going? or How is your new job?
Oh, it’s been really great. No complaints here! How’s it going for you?
Not bad, can’t complain! And how is your summer going?
It’s treating me pretty well! I’ve gotten a lot out of it so far. How’s summer going for you?
18. So, what have you been up to lately?
A person asking this question is asking about the awesome things you’ve done recently.
Another way to ask this question is How’s it going? Usually, you only ask this question if you’re already familiar with the person. That is, you’ve seen them or met them before.
Not much. My last class is on Thursday, so I’m excited about that! What have you been up to?
Let’s see…Well, I started a new job last week, but other than that, everything is pretty much the same. What about you?
What can I say? Nothing too exciting. Things are good. How about you?
19. Long time no see! Anything new since we last saw each other?
This is another friendly and common way to reconnect and start a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a long time.
Where to begin? A lot has changed in the past few months. I got a dog, moved apartments and switched jobs!
Nothing too crazy. How about you? Anything new?
Same old same old. Nothing new. How are things with you?
20. Would you mind giving me a hand with this?
This question is asking for help. Instead of asking a more formal question like, Could you please help me? most native speakers will ask for help with a phrase like this.
You got it!
I’m afraid I can’t. Maybe Anthony could, though.
How to Practice English Questions and Answers
For the sake of your social life, try using these questions and answers that you’ll likely hear in casual conversations in English. Here are some ways you can practice them:
- Practice these questions with a partner, and then try to use a few of these phrases the next time you meet a new friend at a café, work event or social gathering.
- For more basic questions, you can practice with resources like this English question and answer video. You can also prepare yourself for social events by watching this short video with a few simple tips for making small talk.
- There are also online resources like LingQ to learn English from a variety of popular, interesting content such as books and movies.
- You can also use a language learning program like FluentU.
As you can see, having a casual conversation in English can be anything but basic! With these phrases, you’re more prepared than ever to make new friends.
Keep practicing your informal, conversational English in order to give your social life a boost!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.