How to talk about yourself in English
Whether you are starting to learn English or you are a seasoned student, it is always a good idea to brush up on this topic, since introducing yourself is something that nobody can avoid. You will need to introduce yourself at a new job, with a new colleague, the first day of school, on a date, and on many other occasions, so you’d better get ready.
I am sure you know hello, good morning, good afternoon and good evening, but good night is worth explaining to avoid confusion. If you are a Spanish speaker, you may think that good night is the equivalent to buenas noches. However, it is not. In Spanish, we can say buenas noches to say hello at night, but in English, good night is used to say goodbye at night. Imagine you go out for dinner at night with some friends. How would you greet them? Would you say good night? Please don’t! You would be sending them off! If you want to say hello at night, say good evening. Only say good night when the party has finished and it is time to go home.
If you are in New Zealand or Australia, you may have heard good day or g’day. This greeting comes from the UK, where it is an outdated way of saying hello. Here in New Zealand or Australia, it is not old-fashioned at all, and people use it all the time.
If you’ve been walking the streets of New Zealand, I’m sure a local has greeted you saying hiya! This is a very informal greeting too, and quite popular as well.
If someone asks you what’s your name? you can reply: I’m Cecilia, I am Cecilia or my name is Cecilia.
If you are answering the phone, you can say This is Cecilia.
If you have a nickname and you want the other person to use it, you can say: My name is Cecilia but my friends all call me Ceci.
If your name is difficult to pronounce for the other person, you can say: My name is Cecilia, but it is difficult to say, so you can call me by my first name, Maria. Since this is a very common name, most people are familiar with it. Oh, and it is my first name – I don’t give any random names, but you could, just for fun! :)
To the question, how old are you? you can answer with specific information: I am 30 years old, or I’m 30. Just remember not to say I am 30 years: either finish with the number or say years old. But if you want to keep the mystery, you can say I’m in my early/mid/late thirties. That way, you give the other person an idea of how old you are, without revealing the number.
The question where are you from? can be answered in different ways:
You can say the country you are from: I’m from Argentina, or your nationality: I’m Argentinian.
If you are answering this question in a place that is far away from your country of origin, you can use come from and say, for example, I come from Brazil.
Another way of answering the question is saying: I was born and raised in Brazil, which means you were born and you spent your childhood there. If you were born in a country but spent your childhood in another, you can say: I was born in Brazil but raised in Mexico, or I was born in... but I grew up in/ I was raised in/ I spent my childhood in…
If you moved countries, you can say: I grew up in Argentina, but now I live in New Zealand, or I'm originally from Argentina, but I’m now based in New Zealand.
If you want to mention the number of years you’ve spent in a place, you can say: I’ve been living in New Zealand for four years, or I’ve spent the last five years in New Zealand. You can also say: I’ve been living in Wellington since 2015/for 7 years or I moved to New Zealand a few years ago.
To talk about qualifications, you can use the word degree and say:
I have a degree in teaching.
I have a bachelor’s degree in linguistics.
I have a master’s degree in biochemistry.
You can also use the word qualified and say I am a qualified teacher, for example.
Another word you can use is graduate. You can say:
I’m a marketing graduate.
I’m a graduate in marketing.
If you are still studying, this is what you can say:
I’m about to graduate.
I’m studying software development.
I’m completing a PhD in linguistics.
I’m in my final year of a software development degree.
I’m nearing the end of my studies.
I’m currently taking a course in coding.
Let’s focus on prepositions for a moment. Should you use in or on? It depends on what you are studying:
Use in + a theoretical subject: I’m taking a course in accountancy.
Use on + something practical: I’m taking a course on cooking.
To mention information about the length of the course, you can say: I have completed a
6-month course in accountancy/on cooking.
To talk about your job, you can start by mentioning your position: I work as a manager. I work as a barista.
You can add more information and mention the company and department you work in:
I work at Air New Zealand in the sales department.
You can also say what your position is: I’m a manager at Air New Zealand.
Or you can just mention your field: I work in sales.
If you are self-employed, you can say just that: I am self-employed, or also I work for myself.
Here you will need to say how many years of experience you have. You can say, for example:
I have 10 years of experience in teaching.
I’ve worked in teaching for 10 years.
I started off my career as a teacher five years ago in the British Council.
To talk about relationships, you can say I have a partner. I suggest not using boyfriend and girlfriend, since these words typically refer to relationships between very young people, usually not very serious. If you are an adult in a serious, committed relationship, use the word partner instead.
If you are married, you can say you have a husband or a wife. To talk about how long you’ve been together, you can say:
We’ve been together for 10 years.
I’ve been married since 2012.
To talk about your children, you can say:
I have a 7-year-old son.
I'm a father of three, or I’m a mother of two.
I’m a single parent (if you are not in a relationship).
To talk about the number of people in your family, you can use these expressions:
I’m from a family of four.
We are a family of four.
I have two siblings.
I’m one of four siblings. (“Sibling” can mean brother or sister. You can use it to avoid saying something like I’m one of four brothers and sisters, which is long and confusing.)
I grew up in a family of four.
If you don’t have any siblings, you can say I’m an only child.
To talk about your hobbies and interests, you will definitely need the verbs like, love and enjoy. Something to take into account when using those verbs is to use a gerund (an -ing form) after them:
I really like running.
I really enjoy playing football.
I love going for walks at sunrise.
You can also say you are really into something:
I’m really into swimming.
I’m really into sports.
Another word you can use is keen:
I’m a keen runner.
I’m keen on playing football.
And last but not least, we have the word fan: I’m a big fan of golf.
These are basic words and phrases that you can use to talk about yourself. No matter if you are new learning English, of if you've been studying for a while, I suggest practising introducing yourself to feel confident next time you have to do it in real life! To help you practise, I have prepared a cheat sheet with all these phrases that you can download and complete.
I hope you enjoy it!