How To Persuade People In English

English speakers aren’t always direct. For example, we don’t just say what we want and hope that people will agree.

Instead, we often use an introductory phrase to get people to agree with an idea or feeling first – before asking for what we want.

In this post, I’ve got two native-speaker phrases for you which help to persuade people.

Next time you need to persuade someone, use one of these phrases!

Imagine you’re in a train carriage. It’s hot and you want to open the window. You could say “It’s hot in here. Can I open the window?” but in British English, we’re also likely to use an introductory phrase before the request to get people to agree. Here are two of them.

“Is it just me, or…?”

“Is it just me, or is it hot in here?”
When you invite people to agree that it’s hot, you can then ask to open the window.

You can also hear this expression when someone wants to ask for help without saying “Can you help me?”

Here’s an example I heard. A woman in the public toilets was having difficulty with the automatic taps. She said “Is it just me, or are these taps not working?”

Pronunciation help
Your voice should rise on “Is it just me” and then fall to a lower tone on “or”. Then your voice will fall on the rest of the sentence.

“I don’t know about you, but …”

“I don’t know about you, but I think it’s really hot in here.”
You could also use this phrase in the example of the train carriage. Again, you can get people to agree with you and then make your request.

We often use the expression “I don’t know about you, but” with people we know well. Here are some examples:

“I don’t know about you, but I could really do with a cup of tea.”

We also use this phrase to establish “shared experience”. So for example:
“I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it really hard to concentrate in this heat.”

Pronunciation help
Your voice should fall on the phrase “about you”, with a higher pitch on “but”, and then fall on the next part of your sentence.

Improve Your English Fluency

A quick way to speak English more naturally is to use common expressions in everyday situations.

In my fluency program Real English Conversations, I show you the most common collocations and expressions in spoken English.