In Small Talk Explained, we learned how and why people use small talk. Now, we’ll look at some examples.
Asking about someone’s weekend is a very common form of small talk. If you are meeting a friend, the same question could lead to a longer discussion.
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. Take it easy.
Let’s look at a common question people ask on a Thursday or Friday:
“What are your plans for the weekend?” or “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 “Whateryer” 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.
Some other ways to ask about someone’s weekend include:
“Do you have plans for the weekend?” or “Any plans for the weekend?”
“What are you going to do this weekend?”
“What’s going on this weekend?” meaning “What’s happening this weekend?” – When we ask this, we are usually asking if there is a special event, like a concert. If we are not attending an event, we would answer by saying, “Not much.”
So, how do we answer these other questions?
When talking about a future plan, using “will” is incorrect. We can use “planning to” 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.
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.
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?