Expressions using Themes (e.g. Collocations, IELTS, Business English)

Ending a conversation politely

There are lots of reasons you might want to leave a conversation. Perhaps you're running late; or the person you're talking to is very boring. Maybe you're tired, or you just don't feel like talking. These expressions will help you excuse yourself politely from a conversation whenever you need to.

If you are networking at an event and you've enjoyed speaking to someone, but you need to move on and talk to someone else, you can use the following phrases:

It was nice to meet you. Maybe I'll see you later.

I think I see Patrick over there. I must go over and say ‘Hello’.

It's been lovely talking to you. I think I'm going to go and get a coffee.

Please excuse me while I have a word with Jennifer.

I'm going to get some food. I missed lunch travelling to get here.

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If someone stops you in the office or in the street and you really don't have time to talk, you could say:

I can't stop at the moment. I'll call you later.

I'm afraid I'm in a bit of a rush. I'll catch you again.

Sorry, I really don't have time to chat right now. Let's get coffee during the week.

I really ought to keep moving or I'm going to be late!

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Sometimes you find yourself in a conversation that goes on for too long, and you need to find a way to stop it! This is never easy and you need to choose your moment - be careful about lying, you might get found out! You'll see from these examples that it is always more polite to give a reason why you need to go:

Is that the time? I need to get going. My parking ticket runs out in a few minutes.

I'm afraid I must be off. I have an appointment.

I'd love to stay and chat, but I promised John I'd meet him for lunch.

I'm sorry, but I have to head off. I have loads to do today.

I have to dash off. I'm in a bit of a hurry.

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If you are with friends or someone you know very well, you can be a little less formal:

I must be off!

I've got to go. Catch you later!

I'd better split. I have work to do.

I'd better hit the road or I'll get in trouble with the boss.

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These expressions should help you get out of any conversation without offending anyone or hurting their feelings. Test yourself with our short questions on the next page.

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