What is conversational English?

Conversational English is the language used by everyday speakers. It is casual and informal. It is the type of English that is used in grocery stores, at the gym or when speaking with friends and family. It is, for most speakers, the language used to communicate.

While formal English relies on specific rules and structure, conversational English is much freer. It provides flexibility and style, making it easier to use and learn, as well as more fun to use.

How is conversational English different?

The biggest difference in conversational English is its lack of formality. Below are two examples of a phrase in English:

  • “Hello, how are you doing? Hopefully, everything is going well.”
  • “Hey! What’s going on? You doing ok?”

The first is how you would learn from a textbook. It is generally the way you learn English conversation in a school English course.

The second phrase is what you are likely to hear in the real world. It is how most people speak when they are comfortable. You are not likely to ever see a phrase such as this in an English textbook.

Why should you learn conversational English?

If you want to learn English, it is likely more important for you to understand conversational English than formal English. That is because formal English is used far less and in far fewer places, mostly in educational and scientific spaces. Even in most professional situations, the language being used will be closer to conversational English than formal English.

Beyond simply communication, conversational English can teach you so much about culture. The phrases and structure of conversational English are derived from the culture. Knowing these phrases and words can make it easier to enjoy and partake in many cultural events.

What is the best way to learn conversational English?

The best way to learn conversational English is to focus your learning on how to speak English. While this may sound like common sense, there are many language apps and English courses that are rooted in learning by reading. When you are focused on learning what is on a page, you tend to learn formal English.

Finding a course that focuses on English conversation is vital to learning. The more you hear English spoken, the more you will pick up on how it is used in casual settings. You will also gain confidence in using words and phrases, which will allow you to pick up on some of the nuances of conversational English.

When it comes to learning English, most learners end goal is to reach fluency. Understanding both formal and informal English is important, but for most learners, conversational English is what you will use most often. In fact, many English speakers may have trouble understanding some formal English.

So, when you are learning English, make sure you are focusing on learning skills that you will be able to use.