What brings you here? Four Short Words Can Start a Conversation in English

You only need four short words to start a conversation in English. Simply ask, “What brings you here?”

Whether you’re at a café, restaurant, museum, amusement park, concert, rally, conference, or networking event, you likely have a clear reason for being there!

Maybe you’re writing the last chapter of your Master’s thesis and needed to get out of the house.

Perhaps you’ve brought your nephew to the park to celebrate his birthday in style.

It could be that you’re looking for a new job.

You might have read a review of this brand new restaurant and wanted to try it out.

You may be visiting a new city and hitting up the famous cultural sites.

Whatever it is, your response will guide the rest of the conversation.

Open-Ended Questions in Conversation

“What brings you here?” is a great conversation starter because it can be answered in many different ways.

An open-ended question enables the person responding to choose how many details they want to share.

When someone asks you, “What brings you here?”, choose your answer based on the situation.

Don’t want to be bothered? Keep your answer short and vague.

Interested in keeping the conversation going? Respond with details that encourage further questions.

Want to learn more about the other person? Turn the question around.

Is your honest answer a little boring? Make a self-deprecating joke to show off your personality.

Leave Space for Further Questions

As we discussed in What do you do? and Tell me about yourself, the goal when responding to these questions is to share enough details to get the other person’s interest.

There’s no need to go on talking at length – that’s what the rest of the conversation is for!

A strong answer is interesting enough to get the conversation started, but short enough to leave room for more questions.

This is why “What brings you here?” is also a common question in job interviews.

I generally ask “Tell me about yourself” and “What brings you here?” together in order to encourage the job candidate to focus on their motivation for applying for this position.

Keep in mind that just like “Tell me about yourself,” this question is the starting point of the conversation.

As the conversation continues, you’ll be able to go into more detail.

But asking “What brings you here?” enables the other person to share what’s on their mind, right now, right out of the gate.

For more details on why people ask this question and how to create a strong response, watch the complete video lesson above.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn! After watching the video lesson, please leave a comment with your response to my question:

What brings you to the English with Kim community?

Remember, knowing what matters to you helps me guide you even more!

This can be the beginning of a great conversation between us!

Ready to communicate more effectively in conversations? Learn communication skills that enable you to connect with other people and engage in natural conversations and professional discussions. Get started here.

4 thoughts on “What brings you here? Four Short Words Can Start a Conversation in English”

  1. I’m actually not a fan of that line, “So what brings you on here?” I find it to be a conversation killer. For example, if I’m on a dating site, then what do you think I’m doing on there. I think there has to be a better line.

    • This question makes more sense when you’re interacting in person at a location besides your home or office (unless of course they’re asking it during an interview). It’s not my favorite question, but it’s a pretty neutral way to see if the other person is interested in talking.

    • Interesting perspective! If you don’t like this question, what inspired you to search for it? Are you looking for possible answers or questions that work better?


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