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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: English Expressions to Talk About Love and Relationships

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Hi, Im Lori.

Welcome to Oxford Online English!

In this lesson, youll learn how to talk about love and relationships in English.

Youll learn how to talk about dating, getting engaged, good relationships, bad relationships

and break-ups.

You can see lots of useful vocabulary used in natural dialogues, and well give you

explanations to help you use this language clearly and naturally in your spoken English.

Before we start, dont forget to visit our website: Oxford Online English dot com.

You can find free English lessons on many topics, and you can also take online classes

with one of our many teachers.

For this lesson, lets start by talking about casual relationships and dating.

So, your friend Claire


She seems nice

Oh, you like her?

Yeah, I do.

Arent you going out with that charity worker.

Whats her name again?


No, thats over.

What happened?

I liked her.

Sometimes things just dont work out.

Let me guess, she was too clingy?

Yeah, howd you know?

Everyonestoo clingyfor you.

Anyway, what about Claire?

Can you put me in touch?

Why dont you just ask her out yourself?

I dont have her number, or any way to contact her.

I think shell be at Sams housewarming party on Saturday.

Maybe you should go.

Maybe I will!

If youre single and you meet someone you like, whats the next step?

Of course, this is quite different in different parts of the world!

However, in many places, you can ask the other person on a date.

British and American English use different words here.

In British English, you sayask someone outandgo out with someone’; in American

English, you sayask someone on a dateandgo on a date with someone.’

The meanings are the same.

Go out withanddate’—both verbscan also have the meaning that youre seeing

someone regularly, as girlfriend or boyfriend.

However, it could also mean something less serious.

For example, in the dialogue, you heard: ‘Arent you going out with that charity worker?’

Here, ‘go outdoesnt clearly mean that theyre in a couple.

It could also refer to a situation where two people are meeting each other regularly, but

they arent a serious couple.

You could use this language in other ways; for example: ‘Theyve been going out for

about a year now.’

Shes dating a guy I used to work with.’

In these examples, the context tells you that youre talking about more serious relationships.

However, in many cases you would use these wordsgo out with someone, date someoneto

talk about couples in the early stages of a relationship.

If two people have been in a relationship for some time, you can use the termbe


For example: ‘How long have you and your boyfriend been together?’

They were together for about four years, but then they broke up.’

You can also use the verbseeto meanhave a relationship with someone’.

For example: ‘Are you seeing anyone at the moment?’

Im sure hes seeing someone, but he wont tell me who it is.’

Likego out withordate’, these sentences probably refer to the early stages

of a relationship.

If youre going out with someone and everythings going well, what's next?

Did you hear Jens news?

No, what?

Shes engaged.


Thats great!

When did it happen?

A couple of weeks ago.

Phil proposed to her while they were on holiday in Rome.

How romantic!

Whens the wedding?

I dont think theyve decided yet.

Ill have to call her to say congratulations.

Did she have a ring?


I didnt notice.

Youre useless!

Heres a question: can you complete this missing word from the dialogue?

It means: the situation before two people get married.

The word isengaged’.

Be careful withget engagedandbe engaged’.

Do you know the difference?

Get engagedis an action.

When you first agree to get married, you get engaged.

After you get engaged, you *are* engaged.

Be engagedis a state.

For example: ‘They got engaged in June, and got married in July.’

Theyve been engaged for two years now.

They say theyre too busy to plan a wedding!’

Theres a similar difference betweenget marriedandbe married’.

Next question!

Before you get engaged, one person has to ask the other to get married.

Can you complete this sentence from the dialogue?

Do you remember?

The verb ispropose’.

Colloquially, you can also saypop the questionwhich has the same meaning.

For example: ‘He popped the question while they were on holiday.’

This is conversational, so if youre not sure, usepropose’.

Lets do two more.

Can you complete the sentences from the dialogue?

Do you remember the answers?

The full term isengagement ring’.

However, in this context, its clear what she meant.

Now, do you know any couples that have a really good marriage?

Thats our next topic!

How long have you been married now?


Almost ten years.

Thats a long time!

No regrets?


There are ups and downs, of course, but I wouldnt change it for anything.

You two seem like a really good couple.

Yeah, it works well.

Of course, part of being a good couple is knowing when to give each other some space.

Thats true.

I see a lot of couples who move in together, and they give up all of the things which make

them individuals.

We spend a lot of time together, but we have our own friends, our own hobbies, and so on.

Sure, I mean, you dont want to be *too* dependent on each other.


Although, you need to strike a balance.

You need to make time for each other, too.

Of course.

I imagine that it can be easy to let things slip when youve been together so long.

Yeah, its dangerous, actually.

You cant take things for granted, otherwise your relationship will suffer.

If two people go well together, you can say theyre a good couple.

You could also saya great couple’, ora perfect couple’.

What do you think makes two people a good couple?

In the dialogue, you heard these: ‘Part of being a good couple is knowing when to

give each other some space.’

You need to make time for each other.

You cant take things for granted, otherwise your relationship will suffer.’

Do you know whattake things for grantedmeans?

If you take something for granted, youve had something for a long time and you get

used to it.

Then, you dont appreciate it any more.

For example, imagine you eat in an amazing restaurant.

The food is incredible, and you have a great time.

Now, imagine you eat in the same restaurant every night for a year.

Will you still appreciate it?

Probably not.

Youll get bored of it, and it wont be special any more.

Youll take it for granted.

What do you think?

Do you agree with these ideas?

Could you add any more suggestions for a successful relationship?

Of course, there are many ideas!

Here are three more: ‘The most important thing is to listen to each other.’

Accept that youll have ups and downs; dont expect everything to be perfect.’

If youre unhappy about something, deal with it quickly.

Dont let things fester.’

Festerhere means that you dont deal with a problem, so it becomes bigger and more

serious as time goes by.

Of course, not all relationships go perfectly.

Next, lets see how you can talk about relationship problems.

Have you seen Sasha lately?

Yeah, we met for a beer the other evening.

Hows he doing?

I havent seen him for ages.

Not so well.

It seems like he and Maria are having a difficult time.


I remember seeing them together in the summer, and they seemed like the perfect match.

I guess things have gone sour since then.

From what he said, they arent getting on well at all, so theyre fighting all the


He didnt seem happy.

Whats he going to do?

He wasnt sure.

Do they live together?


That complicates things

It does.

Maybe theyll work things out.

You should call him.

Hed be glad to hear from you.


Ill give him a call tonight.

Look at three sentences from the dialogue.

Can you explain what they mean?

If a couple are having a difficult time, it means theyre having some relationship problems.

You can also sayhave problems’.

For example: ‘He and Maria are having problems.’

Go souris an idiom.

Here, it means that things were fine in the past, but now theyre not.

Literally, ‘go souris used with milk and other dairy products.

If you keep milk for too long, itll go sour, and then it smells bad and you shouldnt

drink it.

Here, youre usinggo sourmetaphorically.

Lastly, ‘they arent getting on well at allmeans that they have a lot of conflict.

You might also say something like: ‘Theyre fighting all the time.’

Theyre arguing a lot.’

They just arent seeing eye-to-eye at the moment.’

Seeing eye-to-eyeis another idiom.

If you see eye-to-eye with someone, you understand each other and you have a good relationship.

You can use this in other contexts, not just to talk about romantic relationships.

Finally, lets talk about what happens when relationships end.

Are we still doing movie night at yours tonight?


Maybe not.

My friend Jon is staying.

Its a bit of a messy situationhe left his wife, and I think its for good.

Poor guy!

That must be tough.

Welldont feel too sorry for him.

He was cheating all over the place, and it was his decision to walk out.

OK then, poor wife!

Soon to be ex-wife, I suppose


Theyre that kind of couple, though: they break up, get back together, break up again...

This time, though, I dont see how they can patch things up.


I dont know them, but I dont think I could stay with someone who cheated on me.

Its too big a betrayal.

I agree.

I guess its for them to deal with.

Anyway, can we do the movie night at your house instead?

Please say yes; Ive already told everyone that its at your place.

Yeah, sure!

When youre talking about the end of a relationship, you need different words depending on whether

the couple youre talking about is married or not.

For an unmarried couple, you mostly usebreak up’.

Break upcan be an intransitive verbused without an objector you can break up *with*


For example: ‘They broke up about six months ago.’

She broke up with him because he didnt seem serious enough about their relationship.’

For a married couple, you can use the verbseparate’, meaning that the two people

are still legally married, but they arent in a relationship any more.

Then, you can use the phrasesget divorcedandbe divorced’, in the same way as

you can useget marriedandbe married’.

For example: ‘Theyve been living apart for ages, and they finally got divorced last


Shes divorced.

She left her husband last year.’

You can also use the verb phraseleave someone’.

This is more common with married couples, but you could use it for unmarried couples,


Look at three more sentences which you heard in this dialogue, and one from the last section.

Do you know what these sentences mean?

Work things outis a general phrase, but if youre talking about a relationship,

it means that two people find a way to solve their problems, or at least to accept them.

Patch things uphas the idea of repairing or fixing something.

If a couple have a big fight, or if one person does something bad to the other, they might

need to patch things up, meaning they try to make things better again.

Some couples might break up, and then get back together again.

You can useget togetherto talk about a couple starting a relationship, butget

back togetherhas a different meaning; it means that two people are going back to

a relationship which ended previously.

Thats everything.

Thanks for watching!

See you next time!

The Description of English Expressions to Talk About Love and Relationships