Iggy googles for “how to small talk in English.”

Learning English as a second language can be a daunting task, especially when you start from scratch, but with the right approach, it doesn’t have to be that way.

A great way to begin is by familiarizing yourself with key English vocabulary words and committing them to memory. This will make participating in simple conversations and reading written texts easier for you as you build your understanding of the language and advance with English grammar.

To help you get started, we've put together a list of essential English vocabularies and provided examples of how to use them correctly in conversation. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it's a great starting place for those who are just beginning their journey with the language. Let’s start!

Conversation Essentials

In order to feel more confident handling simple conversations in English, you should have a couple of basic words that will help you appear polite and expressive.

  • Hello, Hi, Good morning. These are a few simple ways to greet someone and start any conversation in English, no matter how informal or formal it may be.
Hello, how are you doing today?
  • Goodbye, Bye, See you soon. These are the most common ways to end a conversation in English.
It was nice talking to you. Goodbye!
  • Please. This is an important word to use when making requests or asking for something politely.
Please pass me the salt.
  • Thank you, Thanks. This is another polite way of expressing gratitude or appreciation for something someone has done for you.
Thank you for your help.
  • Excuse me. This is a phrase used to politely interrupt a conversation or get someone's attention.
Excuse me, what time is it?

You might also want to look into our separate post about small talk and learn how to run a daily conversation in English without stressing yourself out.

Iggy and Benji are in the elevator, Benji asks, “Hi, how are you?” and Iggy replies, “I’m fine, thanks! You?”

Basic English Vocabulary: Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is an everyday activity that can help you learn the language and incorporate common vocabulary into your routine. Here are some basic English words related to grocery shopping:

  • Store. This is a place where groceries and other items are sold.
I'm going to the store to buy some milk.
  • Shopping bag. This is a bag you carry to put your groceries in. You can also use a basket.
Can I have a shopping bag, please?
  • Cart. This is the wheeled container that you use to put your groceries in while shopping.
I need to get a cart to put my groceries in.
  • Checkout counter. This is the desk where you pay for your items when shopping. Here, you will also hear some numbers – revisit our post on numbers in English to make sure you’ll keep up.
I'm going to the checkout counter to pay for my groceries.
  • Cashier. This is the person who processes payments and gives change at a store.
The cashier is helping the customer at the checkout counter.

Here is also a quick list of produce – common words for fresh vegetables in English:

  • carrot
  • potato
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • onion
  • broccoli
  • lettuce
  • cabbage
  • celery
  • corn
  • garlic

And fruit:

  • apple
  • orange
  • banana
  • strawberry
  • grapes
  • watermelon
  • blueberry
  • peach
  • plum
  • avocado

Also, here are some other products you might need in your shopping cart:

  • bread & butter
  • beverages: coffee, tea, juice, soda
  • meat and seafood: beef, pork, chicken, bacon, salmon, shrimp
  • canned foods: beans, pasta sauce, pickles
  • bulk foods: flour, nuts, candy
  • dairy: milk, eggs, dairy, yogurt
  • condiments: ketchup and other sauces, salad dressings, oil
  • household items: toilet paper, tissue paper, garbage bags, detergent, diapers
Iggy writes down a shopping list, including bread, avocado, eggs, bacon, and coffee.

Most Common English Verbs

There are thousands of English verbs out there; however, there are sixteen common ones used in basic English. Learning about them will help you build a strong foundation of the language and make conversations much easier to understand.

It is important to note that there are two main kinds of verbs in the English language – normal verbs (also called lexical verbs) and auxiliary verbs (or helping verbs).

Here are the most common English verbs:

  • Be (am, is, are). This verb is used to describe how someone or something is, was, or will be in the future.
She is a teacher.
  • Have (has, had). This verb is used to talk about possession, relationships, and experiences.
I have a pet dog.
  • Do (does, did). This verb is used to talk about activities or actions that are being done in the present or past.
He does his homework every day.
  • Say (says, said). This verb is used to talk about what someone has said.
She said she was tired.
  • Go (goes, went). This verb is used to talk about movement from one place to another.
He goes to school every day.
  • Come (comes, came). This verb is used to talk about movement toward the speaker.
She comes here every Saturday.
  • Get (gets, got). This verb is used to talk about acquiring something.
I got a new phone yesterday.
  • Make (makes, made). This verb is used to talk about producing something.
She makes the best cookies.
  • Let (lets, let). This verb is used to talk about giving someone permission to do something.
Let me help you with that.
  • Put (puts, put). This verb is used to talk about placing something in a certain position or location.
She puts her books on the table.
  • Send (sends, sent). This verb is used to talk about sending something from one place to another.
He sends a letter to his friend every week.
  • Take (takes, took). This verb is used to talk about carrying or moving something from one place to another.
He takes the bus to work every day.
  • See (sees, saw). This verb is used to talk about visual perception and observation.
I see a lot of birds in the sky.
  • Seem (seems, seemed). This verb is used to talk about appearing a certain way.
She seems happy today.
  • Give (gives, gave): This verb is used to talk about offering something to someone.
He gives his time to help others.
  • Keep (keeps, kept). This verb is used to talk about holding onto something or someone.
She keeps a diary of her daily life.
Iggy googles “how many English verbs are out there.”

Commitment Is Key!

Learning the most common words in the English language will only get you so far. It's important to practice and commit new words to memory in order to become fluent in the language.

Here are some tips to help you learn English vocabulary effectively:

  1. Use flashcards. Flashcards are an excellent way of learning new words and testing yourself on them. Whenever you come across a new word, write it down on a flashcard, and use it to test yourself.
  2. Use mnemonics. Mnemonics are powerful tools for memorizing information and associating them with the right word or phrase. Try using mnemonics to create associations between words in order to remember them better.
  3. Repeat out loud. Repeating words and phrases out loud is an effective way of committing them to memory. Try talking to yourself or saying words aloud while reading or looking at the flashcards.
  4. Make use of visual aids. Visuals are a great way of associating words with images, which can help you remember the words better. Draw pictures or diagrams for each word and attach them to the flashcard.
  5. Practice with a partner. Engaging in conversations with a partner can help you practice using words in context and become more comfortable with them. For instance, you can have conversations in English with your best friend, preferably on topics that are interesting to both of you.
  6. Learn with Langster. Our app provides bite-sized stories suitable for learning new English words, plus the ability to revisit them whenever you need to. Inside, you will also find audio from native speakers to help you pick up proper phrasing.

Learning English vocabulary is an important step towards fluency and understanding the language. With these tips and our list of essential English words for beginners, you're well on your way to mastering the language and being able to communicate effectively in English!

The Bottom Line

Iggy learns new vocabulary by using an app on her smartphone and repeating new words out loud.

As you can see, with the right tips and techniques in place, you can quickly acquire new, essential words and memorize them. By following the advice we’ve provided today – such as using flashcards and mnemonics – you should have no problem mastering basic English vocabulary.

If all else fails, practice speaking out loud or engage in conversation with a partner to help solidify your understanding of each word. With enough dedication and commitment, learning these key English words will become second nature! Good luck and most importantly – have fun!