Flirting in English: 14+ Phrases You Need to Flirt Like a Native Speaker
Want to find love in a foreign country?
Flirting like a native English speaker can be hard, even for an advanced English learner!
How can you tell someone you’re interested in them in a way that sounds natural?
In this post, you’ll learn over 14 ways to flirt in English like a native speaker. Plus, learn the cultural standards for flirting in countries like the United States.
- What Is Flirting?
- English Phrases You Can Use to Flirt
- When Someone Is Interested
- When Someone Is Not Interested
- Flirting Culture In English Speaking Countries
- And One More Thing...
What Is Flirting?
In English, flirting is a verb that means someone is showing that they are interested in another person or think they are attractive.
There are two other phrases you’ll often hear when talking about flirting: pick-up line and to hit on someone.
A pick-up line is a phrase people use to flirt that is very direct and sometimes silly. Pick-up lines are usually really awkward or sound old on purpose. Being funny is a type of flirting, too.
The classic example is:
Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?
This phrase has been repeated millions of times. It compares someone to an angel. Using these is not really a modern way of flirting. They are funnier than anything. People still use them sometimes, but usually to make someone laugh.
To hit on someone means to flirt, but it also sometimes has a negative meaning. It is often used when someone is too aggressive or says something that makes you uncomfortable.
I was on the subway, and some guy was hitting on me.
I think Sarah was hitting on me.
English Phrases You Can Use to Flirt
There are some subtle (gentle) phrases that people connect with flirting.
You can use these phrases, and people will know when you are flirting with them. These sound casual and are very natural in modern English.
Are you on…? / Do you use…?
The blank spaces in these sentence are for inserting a social media website. Some popular social media websites are Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
When you are getting to know somebody and you don’t want to ask for their phone number right away, this is a more casual way to get their contact information. Most people have a smartphone to look up social media information.
This also gives you several ways to talk to them again.
“Are you on Facebook?”
“Yeah, are you?”
“Of course! Can I add you? I want to hang out sometime.”
“Sure, that would be great.”
Can I get your number? / Can I get your digits?
The more upfront (straightforward) way to flirt is asking for their phone number after talking for a while.
If they say “no,” then you can ask about some other way to talk to them, like on social media.
If they still say “no,” they may not be interested. Hopefully, that won’t happen!
“So I was wondering, could I get your number?”
“Great, I’ll have to give you a call sometime.”
Another approach is to give the person your number and ask them to call you, leaving it up to them if they are interested, like:
“Call me sometime, okay?”
This can also be used as a response if someone flirts with you first.
I love your…
First, do not sound creepy with this one.
It’s easy to go into aggressive territory or sound awkward. Usually, you’ll want to say something like their smile, laugh, eyes, hair, dress, jacket or other small feature.
If you say you like something weird or sexual like their face, feet, butt or ears, they might think you are weird. Especially if you do not know the person well.
“Can I just say, I love your eyes.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“They look so bright and pretty.”
Has anyone ever told you…?
If you are flirting by using compliments, this is a great phrase to use. You can put whatever you want to say at the end.
It’s flattering, it may help the conversation along and it doesn’t sound aggressive.
“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Drew Barrymore?”
“Has anybody ever told you that you have the best smile? I bet you hear that a lot, huh?”
You might hear this as a response:
“Yea, I get that a lot actually.” (Meaning: People tell me that often.)
Are you seeing anyone lately?
This is a great phrase to use if you know the person already, or maybe you haven’t talked to them in a long time.
It can come off as lighthearted (friendly and casual), but can also be turned into a conversation around dating.
“How are you doing? Are you seeing anybody lately?“
“I’m okay, and no I’m not. I just haven’t met the right person I guess. You?”
“No, but I have my eye on someone right now.” (I have someone I’m interested in right now.)
Another great compliment is:
“How are you still single?”
Some people may think this is annoying when asked by their friends, but when it is said in a tone that suggests that you are romantically interested, it is considered flirting.
You can follow up with:
“You’re so handsome/beautiful! I would want to date you.”
When Someone Is Interested
So you are confident, you have eye contact and you have started flirting.
How do you know if they are interested in you too?
Or perhaps someone is flirting with you and you want to know how to respond naturally.
Here are some more phrases that will come in handy!
I’m totally into…
This phrase can be changed to fit who you are talking to. Maybe your friend asks you about the person you were talking to.
“He was flirting with you!”
“I know, I’m totally into him.”
Or you can use it directly with the person if you are feeling bold.
“Can I get your number and give you a call sometime?”
“Of course you can have my number, I’m totally into you.”
Have a thing for…
To “have a thing” for someone means that you like them. This phrase also comes up when you are talking to friends or people around you.
It’s not common to use it with the person directly, but it is possible.
“You have a thing for her, don’t you!”
“Yea, I totally have a thing for her. Should I ask her out?”
We are meant for each other / We are meant to be
You may have heard this before in songs or movies because it’s a common saying.
If you believe in fate (destiny) and think the person you are talking to is perfect for you, you can say this after you have been flirting for a while.
This is also a pretty bold thing to say, so be careful! If you say it in a cute way, it can be playful too.
“You know I’m glad we have been talking these past few days. I really think we may be meant to be.”
I’m falling for you
This is another version of “falling in love.” To fall for someone is to become attached to them quickly and like them a lot.
“I’m falling for you” says that you are beginning to feel this way, and you think it will continue until you love them.
You can use this to flirt with someone, or respond to flirting over time.
“I think I’m falling for you.”
There are a few versions for this phrase. A get-together can be a casual meeting with a bunch of friends.
However, to get together means to date or become an item (become a couple). If you want to start dating this person but don’t want to ask very directly for a date or relationship, this will work for you.
“I’d like to get together sometime.”
“How are you still single? I’d date you if I had the chance.”
“I think we should get together, then.”
When Someone Is Not Interested
You may find that someone is not interested after you talk to them. Rejection can be hard, but it should be accepted so you can both move on.
You may hear these responses when you flirt, or you may give these responses if you don’t want to be with someone who is hitting on you too much.
Some of these responses can be given politely with a smile, and others are purposely rude for when you are really not interested, or when the person is invading your personal space.
Sorry, not interested
They may have a girlfriend or boyfriend already.
Maybe they will also say:
“I need to focus on my career right now.”
“I don’t have time for a relationship.”
But they still want to be polite to you. The “sorry” is what makes this polite. Without it, this sentence is a direct shutdown (rejecting a person quickly and strongly).
“Can I give you a call sometime?”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not interested.”
Maybe you are in a formal situation and you want to be very polite to this person. If you want to be very nice and polite, use the following sentence.
“I appreciate the compliment but I’m not really looking for a relationship right now.”
This is very polite. The other person won’t think that you don’t like them. They won’t feel bad about themselves. They will just think that you don’t want to date anyone at all.
I’m seeing someone
If you’re already in a relationship and you don’t plan on starting another one, a good way to reject a person is to be honest and tell them that you are taken (meaning, you are dating somebody).
Again, seeing someone means that you are dating them when used in this context.
“How are you? Are you seeing anyone lately?”
“Actually, yeah, I am seeing somebody.”
“Oh, wow. How’s that going?”
“Really well, thanks.”
What if the person was rude to you? What if you don’t feel like being polite to aggressive people tonight?
A person will usually use this phrase, “get lost,” when they do not want to talk to the other person. Sometimes it’s just used when you don’t like a person.
If a person uses this, it can be seen as very rude. The expression means that you want the person to go far away and be lost somewhere so they can’t bother you anymore.
“How about I buy you a drink?”
In your dreams
Finally, this rejection is usually used by people who think they are much better looking (more attractive) than the other person.
You may have heard the phrase “out of his league,” meaning they are too smart or attractive for the interested person.
“In your dreams” is a short way of saying “me going out with you is only going to happen in your dreams, and it’s not going to happen in reality.”
If you hear this, it means the person really is not interested at all.
“Are you on Facebook? I’d really like to get to know you better.”
“In your dreams, okay?”
Flirting Culture In English Speaking Countries
- Confidence is key. In most English-speaking countries, confidence is the most important thing when flirting. However, being too aggressive is always bad. An “aggressive” way of flirting is not giving up after someone tells you “no.” It is also aggressive when you are too direct and make very strong comments.
- Gentle compliments are popular in the United States. Flirting culture in the United States mainly focuses on gentle compliments, with a tone of confidence to hint at what you mean. There is a difference between how people see “you’re so hot!” and “you have a lovely smile, did you know that?”. Visit this post to learn more compliments and positive phrases in English.
- Don’t get too close to the other person. There are also social rules about the space between you and other people. A common term used in English is comfort zone or space bubble. Just imagine the area that’s around a person. These phrases refer to the space that is close to them, where they do not want other people to be. That is personal space. When someone starts to get closer to you, that usually means they like you and are trying to flirt with you. But if you go too close, you may seem creepy.
- Don’t touch people you don’t know well. If you know the person well, touching their shoulder or hand may be okay. If you don’t know them, it can be aggressive to touch them. The best way to show interest without breaking social rules is to keep eye contact when you talk. That means you are looking at the person’s eyes. This gives the impression of closeness without invading their space bubble.
- Don’t be too direct. Of course, you don’t want to take it too far with your language, either! This is known as coming on too strong. Confessing your love for someone on a first date will seem very strange.
Just like other parts of English culture, you’ll understand flirting more and more as you watch native speakers and learn more about it.
This is where watching English media—like TV shows and English movies—comes in handy. These resources will feature plenty of everyday phrases and idioms, and you can pay attention to the situations in which they come up.
You can also use FluentU to study with authentic English videos.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
And there they are, phrases for flirting and responding! Be careful with the tone of your voice, which should be friendly and confident.
It may take some time to get comfortable enough to use these, but practice makes perfect so don’t be afraid to try.
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.