What to Say When You Feel Stuck in English – 3 Simple Strategies

Feb 7, 2018 | 60 comments

Years ago, when I first moved to France, my BIGGEST fear in French was that I would look or sound stupid. It was to lose the words I needed; to feel stuck in French. You might be in a similar situation. Your biggest fear might be to feel stuck in English.

In my experience, there are two common situations:

  1. Someone asks you a question in English and you have NO IDEA what to say. You’re just stuck. You’re frozen. You lost your words.

Maybe it was a question that was difficult to understand. Maybe you need time to think about it. Maybe you don’t know what you want to say.

But you’re stuck.

  1. You’re talking to someone in English. You’re sharing your ideas and then – BOOM. You lost it. The next word is gone. Or you forgot it. You can’t find the right word. You’re not sure about the expression.

So you’re searching. You’re trying to find the right word. And the other person is waiting for you to continue.

You feel stuck.

The bad news is, these situations happen. And honestly, they suck. (Note: That is an impolite slang word that means: it’s repellant or unpleasant; it’s unfortunate and awful. What it really means is it’s a total bummer.)

The good news is, this happens to native speakers too. And that means we have some common strategies and some common expressions to use to help us in these situations.

When you know the right thing to do and say in those moments when you feel stuck in English, it can take the frustration away. It can overcome the fear. It can help you feel less nervous and stressed.

And most importantly, it can help you continue the conversation.

That is what I want to help you do today. I’m going to share with you exactly what to do and what to say when you feel stuck in English.

My top strategies for what to do when you feel stuck.

Lesson by Annemarie

In the video lesson, I shared with you:

Three strategies native speakers use when they lose a word, get stuck while speaking or don’t know what to say.

One of the most common challenges is to lose a word or to forget an expression while speaking.  This happens SO often to native speakers that we have many different ways to deal with it.

Here are a few that I shared with you in the video lesson:

  1. Oh my gosh, I totally lost what I wanted to say. Sorry.
  2. I lost my train of thought. (A train of thought = a series of thoughts or ideas; your connected ideas or thoughts.)
  3. Oh! I forgot the word. It’s on the tip of my tongue. (On the tip of the tongue is an idiom that means something we almost remember but not quite.)
  4. I forgot what I wanted to say! Hopefully, it will come back to me in a moment.

P.S. For those moments when you don’t understand a question, be sure to use my lesson on What to Say When You Don’t Understand.

And now I want to hear from you.

When you feel stuck in English or when you’re searching for a word in English, what do you usually do?

Do you have a strategy that helps you? If you do, please share it in the comments. Your strategy might help someone else in our community.

As always, you can share your thoughts with me in the comments below the video on YouTube or in the comments section of the online lesson.

If you found this helpful to you, please let me know. The best way to do that is to share this lesson with others. 

Thank you for joining me!

~ Annemarie

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