3. Introductions and conversation openings

A person performing an introduction in a formal situations says, for example: Mrs Johnson, may I introduce Mr. Bentley? Mr. Bentley – Mrs. Johnson.

Less formal alternatives to May I introduce…? Are (in order of decreasing formality):

Let me introduce…

I’d like to meet…

This is…

Meet… - mainly American

It is not always necessary to repeat the names. In informal situations this is never done. The two people who have been introduced both say:

How do you do? – in formal and semi-formal situations

Hallo – in informal and semi-formal situations

Pleased/ Glad to meet you – is fairly common in America but is generally avoided in Britain by educated people.

In formal situations, English people sometimes shake hands when introduced but do not bow.

Two phrases often used before introducing someone are:

Have you met…?

I don’t think you’ve met…

If you have to introduce yourself, you may say:

May I introduce myself? – this is the formal style. Less formal is

Let me introduce myself.

Note that Mr./ Mrs./ Miss should not be used when introducing oneself (but only when addressing other people, or speaking about them). Wither the first name and surname are used together, or, in informal situations, simply the first name. This implies that you expect to be addressed by your first name.

When introducing a guest speaker to an audience, one may say for example:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have great pleasure in introducing …

When two people have been introduced, one of them usually has to start a conversation. One may to do this is to ask a question such as:

Is this your first visit to…?

Have you been here/ to… before?

Have you visited/ seen...?

How do you like/ find (our) …?

(How) are you enjoying…?

Are you finding … interesting/ useful?

What do you think of…?

Are you interesting in …?

A less direct and therefore more tactful way of asking for information is to make a remark with a question tag (usually pronounced with a rise to show interest).

Other remarks which invite a response are, for example:

I believe/ hear…

I’ve been told…

I expect/ suppose/ imagine…

Comments about the weather, especially with a question tag, can also be a convenient way of starting a conversation.

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