When speaking a second language, it is important to know the polite phrases that people use to be friendly & polite, but which don’t have a lot of meaning.
Below, in bold, are 10 phrases you can throw into your conversations to sound not only friendly and polite, but also natural in English.
For example, your waitress will give you your food and say, “Here you go.” She doesn’t really want you to go anywhere. She is inviting you to eat the food that she has brought you. Your response should be, “Thanks.”
Similarly, when you thank a store clerk or an office worker for answering a question, she might say, “Any time.” This person is not asking you for the time or hoping that you will ask more questions, she’s just communicating friendliness. She means “any time” she is at work, she is happy to help. If you happen to see her at a coffee shop, don’t ask her how much the frozen pizza on aisle 5 costs.
When someone greets you and says, “Hey, what’s up?” or “How’s it going?” they don’t really expect a run-down of your life. They expect, “Nothing much. What about you?” You’re all just being friendly. And when you leave, the friendly thing to say is, “Take care” or “Have a good one.”
When saying goodbye, sometimes people might even say, “We have to get together some time.” If they pull out their calendar to set up a date, they mean a real get-together. If not, it’s just a way of saying, “I like you. I hope to see you again.” You can answer, noncommittally, “Sure. That’d be great. Let’s.”
If you arrive at a door, a cafe table, or a bus seat at the same time as someone else, you can gesture and say, “After you.” You’re letting the person know that they can go through the door or sit down first. Your response, again, can be a simple, “Thanks.”
I hope this helps you understand what Americans really mean when they say these extra little things. Use them to make your English sound natural.