Using Questions to Carry on a Conversation

First, answer or discuss the following questions as directed by your teacher. Next read the two dialogues that follow and then answer the dialogue analysis questions.

  1. If you met a friend after summer vacation and asked, "Did you have a nice summer vacation?" what purpose does this question serve? Is it only to get information? If you are interested in continuing the conversation on this topic, how would you indicate this to your friend?
  2. What are some ways you can show a person you are interested in carrying on a conversation?
  3. How do you feel when you're in a conversation and you ask all the questions?

Situation: Josť is sitting at the pool of his apartment complex. His neighbor, Beth, comes and sits down next to him.

Dialogue: One-side Conversation Dialogue: Two-sided Conversation
Beth: Hi, Josť. Beth: Hi, Josť.
Josť: Hi. Josť: Hi, Beth. How's it going?
Beth: My roommate told me you just got a job with a television station. Beth: Fine. Hey, my roommate told me you just got a job with a television station.
Josť: Yes, I did. Josť: Yeah, in New York City at Station BCD. I start next month.
Beth: That's great! What station is it? Beth: Are you looking forward to living in New York?
Josť: BCD in New York. Josť: I think so. It seems like an exciting place, but I've only been there once. Have you ever been there?
Beth: When do you start? Beth: I used to live there.
Josť: Next month. Josť: You did? That's great! Maybe you can tell me where I should look for an apartment.
Beth: Are you looking forward to living in New York? Beth: Sure. Why don't you stop by this evening, and I can give you some information.
Josť: Yes. Josť: Thanks. I'd really appreciate that.
Beth: Well, I hope you have a nice trip. Beth: OK. See you this evening.
Josť; Thanks.

 

Dialogue Analysis

  1. In both dialogues, how does Beth begin the conversation with Josť?
  2. In the Two-sided Conversation, how does Josť initially indicate that he is interested in talking to Beth?
  3. What topic does Beth choose to talk about? Why does she select this topic?
  4. In the One-sided Conversation, does Josť seem interested in discussing this topic and carrying on a conversation? How do you know this?
  5. How does Josť respond differently to questions in the Two-sided conversation?
  6. In either of the dialogues, does Josť ask Beth questions? What might this show?
  7. How would you feel if you were Beth in the One-sided Conversation?
  8. How would you feel if you were Beth in the Two-sided Conversation?
  9. If you're interested in carrying on a conversation with someone, what are some things you can do to show you are interested?
  10. If you're not interested in carrying on a conversation with someone, what are some things you can do to show you are disinterested.
Points to Remember
  1. In English, questions can be used to get specific information. They are also used to carry on a conversation.
  2. Sometimes a simple question can keep the conversation going and/or indicate an interest in continuing it.
  3. Both speakers should be prepared to ask each other questions. If one speaker has to ask all the questions, she or he may feel the other speaker is not interested in a conversation.
  4. Short answers to questions sometimes are perceived as an unwillingness on the part of the speaker to share information.