How to argue in English

How to argue in English

You must be joking!

As a foreigner living in Madrid, I know how hard it is to argue in a language that is not your own. It’s in these moments that I can never find the words to express what I’m trying to say. This has lead me to think that it might be helpful for you if I put together some useful phrases and vocabulary to show you how to argue in English.

But first, it’s important to mention the cultural and social differences that you may encounter when trying to argue in English. For example, as a general rule, British people are more reserved (though not all of us!) and we gesticulate less.

First, we’re going to look at some generic phrases to state your opinion, agree and disagree. Then, you’ll find some key informal vocabulary for arguments.

 

Stating your opinion in English:

In my opinion…

This is how I see it:

I think…

Some might say that…

If you ask me, …

As far as I’m concerned,

 

Agreeing with someone in English:

You’re [totally/completely] right.

I agree with you 100%.

I couldn’t agree with you more.

Absolutely.

I completely agree.

That’s a good point.

So do I/neither do I.

 

Disagreeing with someone in English

 I think you’re wrong.

I don’t agree [at all].

I [totally/completely] disagree.

That’s not always the case.

You’re missing the point.

That’s not the way I see it.

 

Key informal vocabulary for arguments:

 

Stating opinion: 

You see, the thing is …

For a start, …

What I mean is …

What I’m trying to say is that…

I mean, …

Well, it’s just that …

 

Agreeing:

Tell me about it!

I know, right?

Uh huh

That’s so true.

You’re so right!

Completely.

 

Disagreeing (for some reason, I could come up with more of these…):

You must be joking!

Don’t make me laugh!

What has [something/someone] got to do with it?

Are you having a laugh?

You cannot be serious! (See tennis player, John McEnroe, use this in the video below!)

I’m sorry, but…

I beg your pardon?

You’re not listening to me!

 

As promised, here’s the video of John McEnroe showing you how to argue (“you CANNOT be serious!” is at 0:17):

 

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