In a previous article, we touched on the importance of self-introductions in general and zoomed in on one particular skill that I believe is critical in a first conversation, but also in any social interaction, and that is the skill of keeping the conversation going by finishing your answer with a question. If you haven’t seen that video or read that article, then I’d recommend you do and then come back and continue reading this article.
In this article, I’d like to go over some common weather-related ice breakers because, just in case you’re not aware, the weather is one of the most common ice breakers in most places including Australia where, on some days, you could experience 4 seasons on the same day. As in many places, in Down Under, it could get very cold, very hot, very windy, or very wet. So, we’re going to look at a few possible come-backs when someone makes a weather comment to you. And while it’s literally impossible to predict people’s comments word-by-word, it is safe to assume any comment will likely fall under 5 weather conditions: lovely or sunny, hot, cold, windy, and rainy.
Before going over the comments themselves though, I’d like to point out an important feature in the natural spoken English known as question tags. Question tags are basically questions used when we’re trying to elicit an answer or invite the person we’re having a conversation with to confirm what we already know, so someone might say, “Such a lovely day today, isn’t it?” The purpose of ending the comment with a question tag is to get you to agree, so an expected response would be something like “You can say that again” not something weird like “Not really” unless you have no interest in conversing with that person. By the way, if you do hear someone come back to you with “You can say that again”, it doesn’t actually mean you should repeat what you said. That would be totally weird! Comments such as “You can say that again”, “Tell me about it” and “You bet” are just another way to agree with someone’s statement, so they’re very useful in almost any situation. There may be a slight or subtle difference between “You can say that again” and “Tell me about it” and that subtle difference is that it would be odd to use ‘Tell me about it!’ to respond to a positive comment! So, for instance, if someone says “The weather’s absolutely gorgeous today, isn’t it?”, you won’t hear anyone say “Yeah, tell me about it!” because if you do, it means you’re not all that happy with the weather being gorgeous, which is a bit bizarre! On the other hand, if someone says, “Gees, it’s boiling out there, isn’t it!”, that’s when it’s completely natural to respond with “Yeah, tell me about it!”. The reason that would be natural is because you’re both unhappy with the weather.
However, we sometimes use question tags to check if what we know is true, so you might hear someone ask you, “It’s raining, isn’t it?” Notice the rising pitch! “Isn’t it?” ↑ – compare this with, “It’s pouring, isn’t it” ↓
Now, here are some common weather comments with sample answers:
Q1-It’s been raining quite a lot lately, hasn’t it!
A1: Yeah, and I think we’re in for more showers this week.
Q2-Looks pretty cloudy out there today, doesn’t it!
A2: Sure does, but I think it’ll clear up later, well I certainly hope so anyway.
or you could say:
Ha! couldn’t be any more miserable than that!
Q3-It’s too cold today, isn’t it!
A3: It’s a bit nippy out there, yes!
or, we’re in for frost tonight, that’s for sure.
Q4-it’s too hot today, isn’t it!
A4: it’s boiling! well, at least the tomatoes are happy!
Q5-Such a lovely day, isn’t it!
A5: We couldn’t ask for a better day than this.
Q5-Oh my goodness, pretty windy out, isn’t it!
A6: It’s blowing a hooley out here!
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