Whether during a pleasant chat or a heated debate, opportunities arise in conversation for participants to express agreement or disagreement. Between sarcasm, slang and double negatives, finding the appropriate agreement and disagreement expressions is tricky for English language learners at any age. While “yes,” “no,” “I agree” and “I disagree,” are polite and acceptable responses, they are not the only affirmative or negative expressions available and may not be the logical responses in a given situation.
A simple “yes” appropriately expresses agreement in many situations, but it’s not always the appropriate response. When someone says, “I really enjoyed that dinner,” responses such as “Me too” and “So did I,” confirm a shared opinion. Other affirmative statements express a full and strong agreement. For example, saying “exactly,” “absolutely” or “I couldn’t agree more,” in response to an opinion expresses total agreement. Occasionally, “I know” is used to indicate a shared opinion. For instance, if someone says, “That waiter is so rude,” responding with “I know” indicates your agreement with the statement.
Saying “no” or “I disagree” may be the quickest way to express disagreement, but it’s not always the most polite. Certain phrases, such as “I see your point, but … ,” “That’s partly true, however … ” and “Maybe, but ... ,” are designed to soften disagreements by first validating the original speaker’s statement before stating your differing opinion. For example, if a co-worker says, “She should be fired because she’s always late to work,” a reply of “I see your point, but she does stay late, too,” indicates your disagreement with the opinion that she should be fired.
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