Small Talk, Part 2
In Small Talk Explained, I talked about why people use small talk.
Now, we’ll look at some examples of small talk.
Everyone loves weekends!
After a long week of studying or working, everyone is ready to relax or spend time with friends and family.
Weekends are when we try to do all the things we don’t have time for during the week, including just doing nothing.
Whether we plan to run errands or kick back (relax) in front of the TV, we all look forward to the weekend.
What are you up to this weekend?
Because people love weekends, asking about someone’s weekend is a very common form of small talk.
If you are talking with a friend, the same question could lead to a longer discussion.
However, sometimes, it might just be a quick conversation like this one:
Jay: Do you have plans for the weekend?
Leo: Not yet. What about you?
Jay: I’m planning to just take it easy. I might hang out with some friends on Sunday.
Leo: Cool. Well, have fun whatever you end up doing.
Jay: Thanks, you too.
Because people look forward to the weekend, they often start talking about it as early as Wednesday.
Starting as early as Wednesday, people often ask:
What are your plans for the weekend?
What are you doing this weekend?
When said by native speakers using relaxed (normal) speech, these questions sound like this:
As you can hear in the audio file, What are your sounds like Whaduhyer and What are you sounds like Whaddaya.
Additionally, doing sounds like doin‘ with the strong –ing sound dropped. This sound pattern is very common with –ing words.
Other ways to ask about someone’s weekend:
- Do you have plans for the weekend?
- Any plans for the weekend?”
- What are you going to do this weekend?
- What’s going on this weekend?
What’s going on this weekend? means What’s happening this weekend? When we ask this, we are usually asking if there is a special event, like a concert or party. If we are not attending an event, we would answer by saying, Not much, Nothing, or Nothing much.
A note about grammar:
When talking about a future plan that was planned before the moment of speaking, using will is incorrect. We can use be + planning to (or other present continuous verbs) or going to.
So, if you have a plan to see a movie, you might say:
- I’m planning to go to a movie.
- I’m going to a movie.
- I’m going to go see a movie.
- I’m going to see a movie.
- I’m going to go to a movie.
In relaxed speech, these sound like this:
- I’m plannin’ to go-do-a movie.
- I’m goin’ to a movie.
- I’m gonna go see a movie.
- I’m gonna see a movie.
- I’m gonna go-do-a movie.
More grammar explanation and free online practice by the British Council: Future Plans
What if you don’t have any plans?
What if your plan is to stay home all weekend and sleep?
Avoid saying sleep and drink alcohol. These are not natural answers in English. They do not give people a very good impression.
Instead, you can say:
- I’m planning to take it easy.
- (I’ll) probably just relax. (note: will is okay here because it is not a definite plan)
- (I’ll) probably just stay home. (You can also add “I’m not sure.” before “probably” in all 3)
- (I’ll) probably just hang out at home.
For more examples of small talk check out Small Talk: How was your weekend?
Recommended Speaking Courses
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For more natural conversations between native speakers, as well as lots of natural expressions, I recommend Espresso English’s speaking courses. Level 2 is for upper-intermediate and advanced students. You can check out a free sample here.
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