Lost for Words? – Phrases to Give you Thinking Time

You might be asked a question in a speaking exam (or even in real life!) that you just don’t know how to answer straight away. It is good to have a few phrases up your sleeve that will give you some precious thinking time.

Unfortunately, just staying silent or only coming up with ‘errr …’, ‘hmmmm …’ or ‘I don’t know’ does not leave the best impression. Instead, take action now and learn a few sentences that sound like you are engaging in the conversation, but that also allow you to think for a few moments before you have an idea that you can contribute. In this video I will show you a few examples that can help you.


Natural sounding intonation is really important too. Intonation is the rhythm and melody that we speak in. You will sound better and achieve a higher score for your pronunciation in an exam if you work a little on your intonation. Make sure you watch the video clip again and repeat the sentences. Try copying the rhythm this time.

When asked a tricky question, remember:

  • Don’t panic!
  • Breathe calmly.
  • Smile 🙂
  • Use one of the above phrases to give you thinking time.
  • If you’re really stuck: Ask your partner what they thinks instead! (This is a bit of a cheeky approach, so only use it when really necessary).

Good luck in your exam!

Please comment on this post!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s