Sometimes, the best part of a holiday is being able to wander around in a peaceful bliss, not understanding one word anyone else is saying. But you can’t do this 24/7 during your trip as assistance will be needed at one point or another. Don’t fret! Just for you is a list of the top 10 most useful English phrases for your next holiday.
‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are probably the two most important phrases to have while holidaying in an English-speaking country. Good manners are imperative to having a good relationship with those you come across and your willingness to be polite can often result in an increase in locals’ willingness to help you.
Say ‘please’ when asking for something, for example, ‘can I order a beer, please?’. Say ‘thank you’ after receiving something, for example, the beer you just ordered.
‘Excuse me’ is another good polite phrase to have and can be used in two ways. Firstly, ‘excuse me’ is a kinder way to ask someone who is obstructing you to move out of your way. You will find most locals in English-speaking countries use this phrase and rarely ever barge through people to get by, even in the larger cities.
‘Excuse me’ can also be used to get a person’s attention with whom you want to speak to.
WHERE IS THE TOILET?
Regardless of what country you are in, nature will still call. Don’t allow yourself to be caught out by remembering this useful phrase: ‘Where is the toilet?’ This is the most polite/common way to ask. If you want to fit in with the locals more, in Britain, you can ask: ‘Where is the loo?’
HOW DO YOU GET TO…?
No doubt you will want to see as much as possible while on your holiday. Tourist destinations are usually well signposted and finding the main attractions can usually be simple enough, especially if you have a smartphone and internet access abroad. However, if you do have problems finding your way, ask someone ‘How do you get to…?’, inserting at the end where ever it is you wish to go.
DOES THIS TRAIN/BUS GO TO…?
This is another very useful phrase for travelling around a destination. Train and bus journeys can be relatively confusing, where to get on, where to get off, which number to take, especially if you are coming from a location where a certain transportation method (underground train) is not in place. Although many ticket machines can be changed to another language and offer some bit of help, it is useful to be able to ask others so you can be sure. As with ‘How do you get to…?’, you can enter your final destination at the end e.g. ‘Does this bus go to Buckingham Palace?’
I WOULD LIKE…
‘I would like…’ can be used in numerous situations: ‘I would like the fish and chips’, ‘I would like to go to Big Ben’, ‘I would like a smoking room’. If there is something you wish to gain or achieve, this is the phrase you should use. For extra bonus points, add ‘please’ to the end.
CAN I HAVE THE BILL, PLEASE?
When you want to pay for something, most often in a cafe, bar or restaurant, simply ask ‘Can I have the bill, please?’. Otherwise, it is likely it won’t be offered to you. The bill will other be brought directly to your table or the waiter will direct you otherwise.
I really hope you won’t need to use this but if you ever find yourself in trouble, shout ‘Help!’ as loud as you can. This can be used if you are feeling ill, if you have been mugged, etc. No doubt a kind passerby will stop and offer you some assistance.
HOW MUCH IS THIS?
Some of us are not as flamboyant as others while on holiday and would like to know how much something so before purchasing or ordering it. You don’t need to know the name of the object, just hold it up or point it out and ask ‘How much is this?’
‘How much to…?’ is an alternative which can be used for travelling by taxi/train/bus. All you need to do is insert the name of the destination you wish to travel to: ‘How much to Camden Town?’
DO YOU SPEAK…?
If all comes to all and you really feel unable to get by sufficiently speaking English, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a person if you speak their language. Just simply say, ‘Do you speak Deutsch, Espanol, etc?’ You are probably more likely to find people who speak your language work directly in the hospitality industry, for instance in a hotel or a tourist agency. If they don’t speak your language, they may at least be able to offer some useful materials in your mother tongue.
Learning these 10 phrases will be a whole lot of help on your holiday. However, you may not feel comfortable processing the English answers you receive back. If that is the case, check out our blog post on practising your English listening skills before you go.