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

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언어와 문화 학습을 좋아하는 일본계 미국인 Josh 입니다. 영어와 일본어를 하고 제3개국어인 한국어는 20대에 배웠습니다. 통번역사, 프로젝트매니저, 마케터로서의 경험을 바탕으로 여러분이 스마트하게 보일 수 있는 영어 스피킹 노하우를 공유하고 있습니다. 비즈니스 영어와 발음과 엑센트에 관한 강좌를 실시하고 있습니다. 분야: 비즈니스 영어, 프레젠테이션, 발음 교정 現: 유튜브채널 SplashEnglish 운영前: 서울교육대학교, 김미경 영어 스피치 트레이너. 협동: EBSe, JEI 재능, 메가스터디, 제주항공, 캠블리, 코어소리영어, AranTV. 다룰 줄 아는 악기: 탬버린.좋아하는 음식은 타코스.

5 comments add your 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.

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