Today we are going to learn something that English teachers never tell you. The reason they don't tell you this is because most English speakers don't realize they do it. But if you do this, you will sound more native.
Here we go…
Instead of using the word said, use went.
said = went
When you attempt to repeat dialogues to somebody else, you probably use the word “said.” For example:
- She said that she didn't like my cooking.
- My teacher said that I should concentrate more.
- He said, blah blah blah.
- They said, blah blah blah.
There's nothing wrong with this. But here's a little tip that you won't find anywhere else.
Occasionally replace the word went for said. This only works in real life discussion. This is how people speak:
- She went, “Clean your room.” So I went, “I did it yesterday.”
- She went, “She didn't like my cooking.”
If you want to make it sound really authentic, you could say “went to me” instead of “said to me”:
- My teacher went to me yesterday that I should concentrate more.
- My dad went that I should get a job.
You can also make it longer and say the phrase “went to me and said”:
- My dad went to me and said that I should get a job.
- My teacher went to me and said that I should concentrate more.
This is how people speak. If you use this type of informal speech every so often, you will sound more native than most English learners.
Here's another one:
says = goes
This works if you are retelling somebody's words in the present tense.
- So he goes to me that I have to start working extra hours. I go I can't do that. He asked me why so I went to him that I have a new child.
said = like
This is how the younger generation speaks. When they retell a conversation, nobody in reported speech ever “says” anything. Instead they use “like.” For example:
- Sally was like, I don't know what to do about Ethan. So Jessica was like, he's no good for you.
Don't use this one too much unless you are a teenage girl.
Now here are some slang words for the word “conversation.”
Chinwag – This is a common, mainly London British, way to say “conversation,” “chat,” or “talk.” Imagine what you look like while you are talking. Does your chin move up and down? Does your chin wag? This is where the word comes from. You can have a chinwag with your mates. Another way to say chinwag is chit-chat.
Chew the fat – This is, again, a common British phrase that means “have a conversation.” If you want to discover where the phrase originated from, imagine what you look like when you are chewing fat. It looks like you're talking, right? You can chew the fat with your friends.
“What did you do last night?”
“Oh, just chewed the fat with a few mates.”
Chatter/babble – These are both ways to describe the act of talking nonsense. You can go to a busy restaurant and hear a lot of chatter all around you. Babble is often used to describe the noises a baby makes. If you tell someone to stop babbling, you are telling them to stop talking nonsense.
Prattle – Again, this is similar to babble. You will most likely use this to describe the silly conversations that other people have. People can prattle on. People can stay up all night prattling on. You could have been really bored last night because your friend prattled on.
Chinese whispers – This is a common phrase in English to describe information that is unreliable because it came from gossip.
“Did you hear that Daniel is breaking up with Judy?”
“No, I don't listen to gossip. It's just Chinese whispers isn't it?”
BONUS Language Tip:
Let's talk about how British people speak in an indirect way.
British indirectness: compare the difference between these two sentences.
- Have you got a drink?
- You haven't got a drink, have you?
What would you say the difference is between these two?
If you think that the first sentence feels more blunt and direct, I would agree with you. And so would many English-speakers, particularly in Britain.
The second sentence is a lot less direct. This has the benefit of seeming less confrontational. It's more polite, although informal and friendly.
If you want to make the sentence even more colloquial, you could say:
- You ain't got a drink, have you?
Ain't can replace “haven't” and “am not.”
- I ain't doing that. I am not doing that.
- I ain't got a clue. I haven't got a clue. I don't know.
That's it for today! I hope you found this helpful and interesting. Let me know any funny expressions about talking you have in your own language.
If you enjoyed this article, you can learn more ways to sound native in my book, 3 Weeks to Better English: Speak with Slang, Sound like a Native.
Hero image from Lovelorn Poets (CC BY 2.0)