The Language of Debates and Discussions

The success of a debate depends to a large extent on your ability to pick up the right words to put your ideas forward. Below you will find some expressions that can help you interact more effectively with the members of your team and with other interlocutors during a debate.

These expressions can also be used when you are managing a discussion.

(The information presented below has been taken from:

Emmerson, Paul (2007) Business English Handbook. Advanced, Oxford, MacMillan

Robin Walker & Keith Harding (2009) Oxford English for Careers, Tourism 3, Oxford University Press)



Full agreement

• That makes sense.

• You ´re absolutely right.

• Yes, I would agree with that.

• I´d go along with that.

• I agree with (person) that …

• Yes, you have a point there.

• Yes, definitely.

• I agree completely.

• I think you are right.

Half agreement

• I see what you´re saying, but …

• I agree (with you) up to a point, but …

• Yes and no.

• You could be right but …

Polite disagreement

• Well, of course, it all depends.

• I´m not sure I agree with that.

• I´ m not so sure that …

• I´ve got mixed feelings about that.

• Really? Do you think so?

• Don´t you think that …?

Simple Disagreement

• I don´t think that´s true.

• I disagree with you about …

• That´s not how I see it.

• I don´t see what you mean.

• What are you trying to say by that?

• What´s your point exactly?

• You don´t really believe that, do you?

• I disagree completely with the idea that …

• I´m afraid that´s not how I see it.


Beginning the main topic

• Right, let´s get down to business.

• Why don´t I give you an idea of …?

• I´d like to start by … (-ing)

Moving from point to point

• So that´s decided, then. Shall we move on?

• Okay, let´s go on to the next point.

Changing the focus

• There is another way of looking at this.

• Perhaps we should also consider …


• Going back to what I / you said earlier …

• Let me back up (AmE).


• Could I just interrupt for a moment?

• Could I come in there?

• Can I just say something there?

• Can I make a point there?


• I think we´re losing sight of the main point.

• Sorry, if I can just finish, I was saying that …

Buying time

• It´s a difficult issue.

• I´ll have to think about it.

• Could I get back to you on that?

• Why don´t we come back to that later?


Holding the floor

• … am so em … as I was saying …

• Sorry, but I haven´t finished yet.

Defending a point

• I ´m convinced that …

• Nobody can deny that …

• There´s no doubt in my mind that …


Asking for more information

• I´d be interested to know something about …

• Could you tell me a little more about …?

• Could you be a little more specific?

• What (exactly) do you mean by …?

• What sort of price where you thinking of?

• Was that the kind of thing you had in mind?

Asking for repetition

• Could you go over that again, please?

Checking by using your own words

• So, if I understand you correctly, …

• So basically what you´re saying is …

Checking the other person´s understanding

• Does that answer your questions?

• Does that make sense?


• Yes, exactly.

• Yes, that´s right.

• Not exactly.

• Well, let me put it another way.

• No, that´s not what I meant.

• No, what I´m trying to say is …