In this BBC How to… make a point programme, we find out about expressions you can use when you’re having a discussion or disagreement with someone and you want to ‘make a point’ – make a statement or tell them what you think about something. We do this with the help of clips from a discussion between the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and a BBC journalist.
Jackie: Hello, welcome to the programme, with me, Jackie Dalton. This programme is all about expressions you can use when you’re having a discussion or disagreement with someone and you want to tell them what you think about something. We’re going to do this with the help of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
He recently had quite a heated discussion with John Humphries, a BBC journalist. Both Tony Blair and John Humphries used some good expressions as they argued with each other and we’re going to look at some of those expressions. Let’s start with one of the simplest ways you can express your view about something.
Tony Blair: I think we should be immensely proud of the work that we’re doing there.
Jackie: ‘I think…’ followed by a statement or opinion – very simple.
Tony Blair: I think we should be immensely proud of the work that we’re doing there…
Jackie: Now we’ll hear Tony Blair use a slightly more formal way of saying ‘I think…’.
Tony Blair: My view is that the only way you protect your security today is to…
Jackie: ‘My view is that…’ – it has exactly the same meaning as the previous phrases, but it’s just more formal. You wouldn’t hear it used much in discussions between people who know each other well. A similar formal phrase you might hear is ‘In my opinion…’
In my opinion, it would be better to let them do the project.
Jackie: So those are our first three phrases for today. ‘I think…’, ‘My view is that…’, ‘In my opinion…’ followed by the idea you want to express. If you want to make a firm statement about something which you believe to be true, you could start the sentence like this:
John Humphries: The fact is, it is disastrous what is happening at the moment.
Jackie: You would use ‘the fact is…’ followed by the statement. Listen to Tony Blair using it now.
Tony Blair: The fact is, it was a terrible situation…
Jackie: Sometimes in a discussion you may feel that the other person isn’t listening to the main message you want to get across. You may want to bring them back to focus on what you’re trying to say. Listen to how
Tony Blair does it here: Tony Blair and John Humphries
You’d already decided by then.
That is really not true, you know, we’re never going to agree on that.
The point, however, is this…
Jackie: Tony Blair tries to bring John Humphries back to the message he wants to get across with the phrase ‘The point is this…’
Tony Blair: The point, however, is this…
Jackie: The point – the single fact or idea that Tony Blair sees as the main part of the discussion. Listen to some more examples:
I know I didn’t tell you that he’d gone missing straight away, but that’s not the point. The point is: he’s safe.
Tony Blair: The moment you remove-
History tells us that.
Well- I know, but John, the point I’m trying to make is this: the moment you remove…
Jackie: If you want to tell someone in a very direct way that they don’t understand what you’re trying to say, you could put it like this:
You’re missing the point.
Jackie: In this interview, Tony and John even end up arguing about what the main point in their discussion is.
Tony Blair: That’s a completely different point.
No it isn’t, it’s exactly the point.
No it is, it is…
Jackie: To tell someone they’re ‘missing the point’ could be seen as quite rude, so be very careful about using it. The expression Tony Blair is about to use is also a bit direct for polite conversation.
Tony Blair: Look, I was there, discussing this…
Look, the charge against my position is…
Jackie: Again, ‘look…’ is a way of focusing someone’s attention on what you’re about to say. Here, Tony Blair said it quite impatiently, as if he was getting annoyed. The same goes for this example:
Look, this is nothing to do with you so leave me alone!
Jackie: If you’re talking to a friend and say it more softly it sounds OK.
Look, you shouldn’t worry about her so much. She’ll be fine.
Jackie: Now we’re going to hear a bit more of that last clip from Tony Blair. What expression does he use to show he wants John to believe that what he’s saying is true?
Tony Blair: Look, I was there, discussing this and I can assure you that the idea that there had been a
sort of irreversible decision taken…
Jackie: ‘I can assure you that…’ – a fairly formal phrase that you might want to use when you want to convince someone that something is true.
I can assure you that we’ll do everything we can to help him.
I can assure you that this is the best quality we have.
|Language for making a point|
|I think (that)…||I think you should go now.|
|My view is (that)…||My view is that the project will fail.|
|In my opinion, …||In my opinion, the firm can succeed.|
|I can assure you (that)…||I can assure you that we’ve done everything we can.|
|Making a statement|
|The fact is (that)…||The fact is, he’s a great performer.|
|The point is (that)…||The point is, we don’t know if they’re being honest.|
|You’re missing the point
(can sound a bit rude)
|You’re missing the point – why do you never listen properly to what I’m saying?|
(can sound quite aggressive)
|Look, everyone thinks it’s a bad idea.|
‘that’ is optional after I think.., my view is…, I can assure you…, the fact is… and the point is….
BBC How to… make a point Transcript Video
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