How to Talk about Politics in English: Top Phrases to Describe Views

Elly Kimreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process7 min
Created: Feb 27, 2023Last updated: Jan 21, 2024
How to Talk about Politics in English

While political discussions may not be the best conversation starter when meeting new people, there may be instances where you can’t avoid the topic altogether. So what should you do when someone brings up politics in a sentence? First, of course, you don’t have to be silent. This article will provide essential guidelines and effective expressions to help you master any political conversation, even if you are not (yet) comfortable speaking English. 

What to Do and Not to Do: 7 Main Rules for Talking Politics

Before delving into the complexities of political terminology, it’s crucial to establish some critical rules for discussing this topic. First, given its potentially challenging and sensitive nature, it’s essential to remain polite and respectful of others’ opinions, even when they differ from yours. With that in mind, let’s begin by outlining some common pitfalls to avoid when talking about politics.

  1. Don’t make it personal. You should stay polite even if your interlocutor has an entirely polar opinion. Don’t insult or make fun of anyone for their character, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views; try to avoid a passive-aggressive tone.
  2. Avoid fakes. You need to rest assured that the information you are providing is valid. Be ready to stand up for your opinion and back it up with facts from reliable sources. 
  3. Stay open-minded. No matter how difficult it can be, accept that sometimes your conversational partner can be more right on specific topics than you are. Try not to dismiss other people’s opinions and listen to diverse perspectives. 
  4. Forget about hate speeches. The primary objective of any intelligent political discussion is to remain courteous and refrain from harboring negative feelings toward anyone or anything. Avoid advocating violence or expressing offensive remarks about any individual or group. It is essential when engaging in such conversations.

These straightforward guidelines help you maintain a respectful tone when discussing political conversation topics. However, with all the things to avoid, are there also things to embrace? Absolutely. Here are some steps you can take in any political conversation.

  1. Pay attention. When someone else is speaking, give them your full attention and avoid interrupting or talking over them. Try to understand their perspective, even if you disagree with it.
  2. Use “I” statements. Instead of making generalizations or assumptions, focus on your thoughts and feelings. For example, instead of saying, “people like you are always so closed-minded,” say, “I find it difficult to understand your perspective because it’s different from my own.”
  3. Know when to disengage. If the conversation becomes too heated or unproductive, it’s okay to end it and move on to another topic politely.

Now you are ready to engage in productive and courteous political discussion in English. As you can see, nothing is complicated – all you need to do is respect different opinions and remain polite. And with these rules in mind, let’s move on to the next topic.

Appropriate and Inappropriate Political Things to Talk About

When engaging in political conversations in English, it’s crucial to understand what topics are appropriate to cover and which ones are not. Some political subjects may be too sensitive or controversial, and talking about them may lead to heated arguments or hurt feelings. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate English conversations when discussing politics.

Appropriate political topics:

  1. Current events. Discussing recent political events or news stories can be a great way to start a political conversation. Just be sure to avoid biased sources and provide valid information.
  2. Policy discussions. Talking about specific policies and their potential impacts can be a productive way to engage in political discourse. Make sure to back up your arguments with credible sources and be open to hearing opposing views.
  3. Political history. Understanding the history of political issues can provide context for current events and help broaden your knowledge of politics.

Inappropriate political topics:

  1. Conspiracy theories. Discussing unfounded conspiracy theories can undermine the integrity of the conversation and distract from meaningful dialogue.
  2. Religion. While religion and politics often intersect, discoursing faith in a political context can be sensitive. It’s best to avoid religious discussions unless they directly relate to a political issue.
  3. Highly emotional topics. Topics such as abortion, gun control, and immigration can be intensely emotional and trigger strong reactions. If you engage in these conversations, be prepared to listen respectfully and keep the discussion focused on the issues.

By following these guidelines and being mindful of the topics you deal with, you can master any discussion and always be an engaging interlocutor. Remember to remain open-minded, stick to facts, and treat others respectfully.

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Best Words and Expressions to Master Any Political Conversation

As you can see, there are plenty of rules to follow and subjects to avoid when discussing politics. But if you want to remain confident during such conversations, you also need to learn common words and expressions to talk about political things. And as always, we are here to help! So please look at our complete list of terms, phrases, and examples of using them.

Basic Political Terms

Let’s learn some of the most widespread political terms you can hear in such discussions. Even though they might look like difficult words at first glance, we will do our best to explain them as simply as possible. 

  • Election

It is a process of voting to choose a person for a position of power or authority.

Example: The upcoming election will determine who will become the next president.

  • Representative

This term describes a person elected to act or speak for others. 

Example: The representative of the district spoke at the town hall meeting.

  • Constitution

Cambridge Dictionary defines this common term as a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed. 

Example: The US Constitution outlines the fundamental principles of the American government.

  • Political party

This general term means an organized group with similar political aims and opinions. 

Example: The Republican and Democratic parties are the two major political parties in the United States.

  • Liberal

As an adjective, it means to be open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values. 

Example: He has a liberal outlook on social issues.

  • Conservative

Contrary to the previous one, this adjective means holding to traditional attitudes and values and being cautious about change or innovation.

Example: She has conservative views on economic policy.

Useful Political Expressions 

And now that you know enough basic political terms, it is time to move on to the next topic. Below, you will find a few examples of general expressions you can use in different discussions. Let’s talk about them in more detail.

  • “I see your point, but I respectfully disagree.” 

It is a polite way to express that you have a different opinion than the person you are speaking with.

  • “Can you elaborate on that?” 

Use this expression to ask someone to give more details or explain their views.

  • “I understand where you’re coming from, but have you considered...?” 

It is a great way to introduce a counter argument without being confrontational.

  • “Let’s agree to disagree.” 

It is a courteous way to end a conversation when you realize you and your interlocutor have different views.

  • “I appreciate your willingness to have this conversation with me.” 

Use this expression to thank the person you are speaking with for engaging in a political discussion with you, even if you disagree with their views.

How to Have Better Political Conversations? Ask Promova!

Are you interested in learning political terms and expressions in English but struggling to find the time to take lessons? Look no further than Promova, a language-learning platform designed to fit your busy schedule. We offer personal and group lessons, so you can choose the learning style that works best for you. Our experienced tutors will work with you to create a customized lesson plan that meets your specific goals and needs.

You can also join our free Conversational club to practice discussing politics with other students. And with the convenient Promova mobile application, you can take your lessons on the go and never miss a beat. Study during your commute, at the gym, or during your lunch break – our mobile app makes it easy to fit language learning your busy lifestyle. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for Promova today and start your journey to fluency. 

Conclusion

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you can’t avoid talking about politics, don’t worry. This article has provided essential guidelines and useful expressions to help you master any political conversation. Even if you are not fluent in English yet, these simple rules and terms will help you feel confident when talking about politics.

FAQ

What are the best questions to ask about politics?

The best tip is to ask thoughtful questions that promote dialogue and deepen understanding. For example, you can ask your interlocutor what led them to their political views or ask them to explain their stance on a particular issue. As for general questions, you can ask what would be the potential consequences of a specific policy or how they see the current political system evolving in the future. 

What subjects are inappropriate in a political discussion?

In a political discussion, specific subjects can be inappropriate as they may lead to unnecessary tension, disagreements, or even offend people. These topics include personal attacks, insults, racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. Additionally, discussing controversial religious or moral issues may also be inappropriate. Therefore, avoiding such topics and focusing on constructive dialogue is essential.

How to talk about politics without fighting?

It requires an approach that prioritizes respect and understanding. Start by listening carefully, acknowledging differences, and avoiding derogatory language. Then, stay calm, avoid interrupting, and focus on finding common ground. Use facts and evidence to support your views, and be willing to learn from others. Ultimately, remember that political disagreements don’t have to lead to fighting and that respectful dialogue can lead to mutual understanding.

What does the one-two-horse race idiom mean?

This political idiom refers to a competition (most likely, the election) where only two participants or parties have a realistic chance of winning, and the outcome is likely to be decided between them. It implies that the other participants are not strong enough to challenge the leading duo, making the election predictable and less exciting. 

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