Agreeing and Disagreeing

Number 25 of 73 in B2 - UPPER-INTERMEDIATE

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Agreeing and Disagreeing in English

How to Talk: Agreeing and Disagreeing

Sarah and Martin are talking about a friend theirs who has decided to leave London to live in a village. They can’t agree on if it is a good idea:

Sarah: Have you heard about Daniel?

Martin: No, what’s up?

Sarah: He’s going to move out of London and live in the country- a little village in Kent.

Martin: Oh? That sounds nice. It’ll be a nice change!

Sarah: Do you think so? I don’t see it that way. Think of everything he’ll miss when he’s in the country. I think there’s a pub and a post office and that’s it!

Martin: I don’t go along with you there. Not everybody is suited to life in the city. In fact, I’d say most people aren’t. Getting up early, catching the underground together with tens of thousands of other people, the stress, the rush, the noise- I´m quite jealous actually!

Sarah: I agree with you up to a point, but you have to take into account that it’s not just a two-week holiday- he’s going to live there and he’ll be bored stiff after six months or so. Do you see what I mean?

Martin: I really don’t think so. Life isn’t just about going to shops and nightclubs. Let me explain- If you live in the countryside you can get a dog, go for long walks, do the gardening, sit and read in the garden when it’s nice. What’s more, for the price of a one-bedroom studio flat in Richmond he can get a nice two- or three- bedroom detached house with a garden!

Sarah: I see your point, but I think you’re forgetting something. In London you have everything; the best musicals and theatres, concerts, festivals. Dan’s a football fan- who’s he going to watch in Kent- Faversham Town?

Martin: OK, I see what you mean! You’re right about the football, but when people start talking about all there is to do in the city, they’re missing the point. Of course there’s opera and museums and so on, but that’s not the point- the point is that after an hour standing on the underground, the last thing you want to do is turn around and spend another hour to see an art exhibition of cows cut in half!

Sarah: I have to admit that you’ve got a point. Personally speaking, I´m the first to stay on the sofa when I get home from work, but I still think Daniel’s making a mistake- Take Brian and Sue as an example. They moved to a remote Scottish island two years ago, and I´ve been told they’re fed up and want to come back!

Martin: As I see it, Kent is a nice compromise. Anytime he misses a bit of London he can just get the train in for the day. That’s why I don’t think it’s such a bad idea- on the contrary, I think I might follow his example…..

Sarah: It’s up to you, but I’m not staying here, in case this quiet life syndrome is contagious! What I mean is that I´m perfectly happy being a city girl, even with noise, pollution and everything that comes with it.

Martin: To sum up, we agree to disagree! But maybe we can get Daniel to invite us someday…

These are expressions which can be very useful in this type of conversation:

Agreeing (to some extent):

I agree with you (up to a point, but..)
I see your point, (but you’re forgetting something.)
I see what you mean, (but don’t you think that….)
You’re right!
You’ve got a point, (but you have to take into account that…)

Disagreeing:

I don’t see it that way.
I don’t go along with you there
I beg to differ!
I don’t think so.
That’s not the point. The point is that…

Asking for agreement:

Do you see what I mean?
Don’t you think that..?
Do you see my point?

Explaining yourself:

Let me explain;*
What I mean is that….*
I have to admit that…
That’s why..
On one hand…….(on the other hand..)
On the contrary,…                                                                                                                                                                          In that case..

*These two expressions are very good when you are stuck in the middle of a sentence and don’t know how to continue. You use this phrase and explain from a different angle.

Giving your opinion:

In my humble opinion,
As I see it,
Personally speaking, I think that…

Giving examples:

Have you heard about….?
Take ………. as an example
I’ve been told that…

Finishing the conversation:

To sum up,…
It’s up to you!
That’s settled!
We’ll have to agree to disagree!

Guidelines for Speaking exams (Dialogues):

The best way to approach a dialogue Speaking exam is to look at it as tennis practice, or a warm-up. It’s important to realise that:

• You have to keep the ball bouncing between you and your partner. Make sure you both speak more or less the same amount of time.
• Like tennis, the first person to speak should just ‘serve’: Introduce the topic and pass the ball to the other person. ‘Hello Juan! I’ve been thinking about our holidays- have you got any plans?’ This is when you are most nervous, and if you speak too much, it’s where you will make mistakes.
• It’s not a match, because your aim is not to beat the other person. On the contrary, you have to help each other out. If you see he or she is having problems, jump in to help them out: ‘Can I put a word in?’
• Each time you finish saying something, try to pass the ball back with a question to the other person: ‘Do you see what I mean?’ ‘…don’t you think?’ ‘Do you see my point?’ ‘What do you make of/think of this idea?’
• In a Speaking exam make sure you don’t agree to early, or you’ll kill the conversation, but you usually have to agree at the end. Keep one option open.

Let’s look at an example. Juan and Cristina have to play the role of brother and siter and decide on a way to celebrate their parent’s wedding anniversary.

Juan: Hello Cristina- it’s about time we thought of something for our parents’ wedding anniversary. Do you have any ideas?

Cristina: Why don’t we book a holiday for them? They would love a trip to London or Paris, don’t you think?

(Notice that each time they finish with a question for their partner)

Juan: I see what you mean, but you have to take into account that it’s expensive, and I don’t have much money at the moment. How about something a bit cheaper?

(In this conversation the agreeing/disagreeing combines with suggesting and making plans: click here for the article.

Cristina: In that case, we could pay for a weekend in a country spa….

(At this point Juan realises that the conversation is becoming a repetitive, and so he changes tactics.)

Juan: I don’t go along with you there. As I see it, it would be better to have a party and invite family and friends. Take last year’s anniversary as an example. We had a big family dinner and they loved it! That’s why I think we should do something similar.

(By giving an invented example, Juan has done two things- include the past tense, and focus the conversation on something different)

Cristina: I see your point, and I have to admit it’s a good idea, but you’re forgetting that Mum doesn’t like a lot of people, even though Dad does.

Juan: But we don’t have to do exactly the same thing. What I mean is that we could take them to a nice restaurant and invite just ……um…Let me explain….we could…

(Here Juan seems to have problems explaining. Cristina sees this and intervenes.)

Cristina: You’re right! I think so too. Why don’t we talk to our uncle and we tell him. What do you make of that idea?

Juan: Perfect! That’s settled!

(You don’t have to use all the phrases and expressions written here, but try to use 1 or 2 of each type.)

That’s it! You’re ready! Any Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Write to me below…

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