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Life skills tip of the week: ways of expressing agreement or disagreement

Macmillan Life Skills: language is a life skillLearning about pragmatics and how to express yourself successfully is a useful life skillsaid Michael Rundell in January when he introduced the new pragmatics series on Macmillan Dictionary. The series is part of the Macmillan Life Skills campaign, offering free resources for English language students and teachers each month.

As part of the series, we’ll bring more useful content and tips from the Macmillan Dictionary on expressing yourself.

This week’s language tip helps with ways of agreeing and disagreeing:

Ways of expressing agreement:

That’s right/You’re right/I know: used when agreeing with someone:
‘It’s supposed to be a very good school.’ ‘That’s right. They get great results.’
‘He’s really boring, isn’t he?’ ‘Oh, I know, he never stops talking about himself.’

Exactly/Absolutely/I couldn’t agree more: used for saying that you completely agree with someone:
‘When we were young, people didn’t get into debt.’ ‘Exactly. You just bought what you could afford.’
‘I think Jacob is the best person for the job.’ ‘Absolutely. I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t get it.’
‘We had to wait three months to get a phone line – it’s ridiculous.’ ‘I couldn’t agree more.

You can say that again/You’re telling me: a more informal way of saying that you completely agree with someone:
‘It’s so cold outside!’ ‘You can say that again!
‘The buses are so unreliable!’ ‘You’re telling me! I’ve been waiting here for half an hour.’

Why not? used when agreeing with a suggestion someone has made:
‘Let’s go to the cinema tonight.’ ‘Why not? We haven’t been for ages.’

I suppose (so)/I guess (so): used when you agree that someone is right, but you are not happy with the situation:
‘We’ll have to get some new tyres.’ ‘I suppose so/I guess so. But it will be expensive.’

Ways of expressing disagreement:

I’m sorry, but…/Excuse me, but…/Pardon me, but…: used when politely telling someone that you do not agree with them:
Sorry/Excuse me/Pardon me, but it was never proved that he stole that car.

Absolutely not/Of course not…/Nothing of the kind! used for saying that you completely disagree with what someone has said:
‘I think I should accept the blame for the accident.’ ‘Absolutely not!/Of course not!/Nothing of the kind! There’s no way it was your fault.’

I don’t know/I take your point/That’s true, but…: used as polite ways of saying that you do not really agree with someone:
‘Peter is really unfriendly sometimes. ‘I don’t know, he’s always been very kind to me.’
‘These taxes on petrol are far too high.’ ‘Well yes, I take your point. But maybe that’ll encourage people to use their cars less.’
‘She’s a difficult person to work with.’ ‘That’s true, but she’s a really good designer.’

Speak for yourself…: an informal and sometimes impolite way of telling someone that your opinion is very different to theirs:
‘We don’t mind walking from here.’ ‘Speak for yourself! My feet are killing me!’

Don’t make me laugh/Are you kidding?/You must be joking…: informal ways of telling someone you completely disagree with them, and you think that what they have said is crazy:
‘I really think the Beatles are overrated.’ ‘Are you kidding?/Don’t make me laugh! They’re better than any of the modern bands.’

Would you like to learn more about pragmatics? Keep a close eye on our pragmatics page; we’ll publish the fourth life skills lesson plan next week. For more information about Life Skills, visit the Macmillan Life Skills page.

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1 Comment

  • Your lifeskilltips are very useful and (!) up to date.

    Suggestion for agreement:

    Expression for partial agreement: e.g one the one hand …. On the other hand
    In a way you are right, but …
    You may have a point there, but..

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