Today, I want to share a secret with you. Do you know what Americans mean when they say things like “Let’s have get together”? No?
Well, it’s a good thing you’re here, because today’s lesson will save you a lot of social embarrassment.
“Let’s get together sometime”: An everyday way to end a conversation
If you’ve ever had a nice, friendly conversation with an American, there’s a good chance that the conversation ended like this :
- “Yeah, it was good talking to you. We should go out for lunch one day!”
- “Let’s get together for a drink some time.”
- “You really should come over for coffee one day.”
- “If you’re ever in San Francisco, give me a call.”
Of course, in that last one, the American speaking lives in San Francisco. It would make no sense for your friend in Miami to tell you to call them when you’re in San Francisco…
You understand what I mean….
What do all of those expressions have in common? Let’s look at the language more closely:
“We should go out for lunch one day!” = Sounds like an invitation to go to a restaurant together
“Let’s get together for a drink some time.” Sounds like an invitation to go to a bar together.
“You really should come over for coffee one day.” Sounds like an invitation to someone’s house for coffee.
“If you’re ever in San Francisco, give me a call.” Sounds like an invitation to make contact when you’re visiting someone’s town.
So, logically, if an American says any of these sentences to you, they’re inviting you.
To a restaurant, to their house, whatever.
WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN
But, this is just a friendly gesture. A way to say “Hey, I like you.”
This idea of liking someone, and having others like you is pretty important in American society.
To illustrate, here’s a cultural reference that every American knows: In 1984 when the actress Sally Field accepted her Academy Award, she screamed “You like me! I can’t deny the fact, right now, you like me!”
It’s really cheesy. (cheesy= silly, kitsch, exaggerated to a point of being funny).
See for yourself in this video.
So even if an American tells you “You should come over for coffee one day”, and it’s not really an invitation, it’s still good, because it means they like you.
And that’s important for them.
HOW TO KNOW IF THE INVITATION IS REAL
So if those “invitations” are just polite ways to conclude a conversation, how do you know when an American is really, truly inviting you for coffee, lunch, or a margarita?
Well, let’s compare two examples.
Here’s an invitation that really isn’t one:
“It was good talking to you, maybe we should get together again for coffee some time!”
And here’s a real invitation:
“It was good talking to you. I’d love to hear more about your life in France. Do you want to meet up some time next weekend maybe for coffee?”
What are the differences?
The real invitation is much more specific. I mention a topic of a future conversation, and I mention a time for the next time to meet.”
So, if it’s a vague “We should go out again some time”, that’s just a polite way of saying goodbye.
The appropriate response is just “Yeah, that would be great.”
If there are some specifics: a topic of the future conversation, a specific time, that’s a real invitation.
See what I mean in this week’s English lesson:
Now, what about you?
Have you ever been confused in a situation like this? What did the American say?
How did you respond?
Share your stories with us in the comments below! We can all learn from each other’s stories!
Remember to get my Top 10 best episodes for making small talk in English.
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You’ll get lots of vocabulary, useful grammar, and more little secrets to making good small talk in English, especially with Americans.
See you next week! (And that’s a real invitation 😉
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