What to say when you get stuck in a conversation in English

You meet a native English speaker.

You start speaking and it goes well for the first few minutes.

Then at some point, your thoughts become disorganized.

You start saying things that don’t make sense, or you get stuck because you can’t find the exact English words or phrases to convey your thoughts.

It happens to all of us.

It happens because you get nervous. It happens because you’re putting too much focus on yourself and what you want to say.

Whenever you get stuck in an English conversation, try saying these phrases. Acknowledge and admit that you can’t quite say what you want to say, and change the subject or ask a question so as not to disrupt the flow of the conversation.


When you’re stuck, use these phrases


I lost a train of thought. 

It means you forgot what you were talking about.

“Sorry, I lost a train of thought. What were we talking about?”


It’s on the tip of my tongue. 

It means something is about to be said or almost remembered.

“What was his name… His name is on the tip of my tongue!”


I’ll get back to you when I remember it. 

You forgot something at the moment, but you promise to tell it once you remember it.

“And we went to this amazing restaurant… I forgot what it was called. I’ll get back to you when I remember it.”


Tell me about the time when you got stuck speaking in English. What happened? What did you do?


About Josh

3개 국어(🇺🇸영어, 🇯🇵일본어, 🇰🇷한국어)가 가능한 Japanese-American(일본계 미국인). 한국 거주 10년 째. 구독자 6만명의 영어 유튜브 채널을 운영하며 교육 방송 출연과 대학 출강 경험이 있음. 전 직장: Line과 Meta. 좋아하는 음식은 🌮. 취미는 탬버린.

5 comments add your comment

Leave a Comment

  1. Many time, I got stuck in an English conversation with native speakers not only for being nervous but also putting too much focus on myself and what I wanted to say.
    I haven’t realized this until I read it above. I should have tried to listen to others in conversation. Thank you Josh

  2. 아….감사합니다. 저는 캐나다에서도 북쪽에 있는 기름뽑는 곳에서 일합니다. 그런데 거기서 원어민들 하는 얘기를 도통 알아들을 수가 없는데 ….위 문장을 써먹어봐야 겠군요. 정말 답답한 마음에 어떻게 공부를 할 지도 감이 안옵니다. 원어민들 욕과 슬랭들 굉장히 많이 쓰는 곳에서 어떻게 하면 빨리 듣고 이해를 할 지 앞이 캄캄합니다.

    • There was a teacher at a hagwon that I used to work at, and he had a very strong Northern English accent. It took me about two weeks to get used to his accent. It can be very frustrating, but do try to imitate the way your Canadian friends speak English. Once you learn to produce the same sounds, it’ll be easier to notice them when you listen to them.

      • Thank you but they keep away foreign worker who having language barrier each other….how can I do like this situation? It really make me depressed.

        • If you see your coworkers every day then one thing you could try is to connect with them through a common interest, such as sports and music. If you only see your coworkers once in a while, then you don’t need to impress or try to be friends with people who don’t want you in their life. There are more friendlier people out there in your town or online.