Human beings have been telling stories for centuries. Indeed, our traditions have all originated from stories told, retold and passed down the generations way before the written word was invented. Stories bring people together and build empathy among its tellers and listeners.
We all have a story to tell whether it’s funny, sad or serious. We all love to listen to stories because it makes us feel part of a community. Stories make you realise that you’re not alone in experiencing whatever you’re experiencing. This is especially important when it involves sensitive subjects such as mental illness, money problems, feelings of failure or low self-esteem. Being able to share your story and listen to other similar stories can be invaluable in making us feel less isolated.
An anecdote is a short story, funny or interesting, about an event that we share with people socially and professionally.
In this post, I want to give you some phrases in English you can use to tell your anecdote. In order to to capture your listener’s attention, the anecdote needs to have some structure. It needs:
✶ The introduction – This gives the background to the story and why people will find it interesting or funny.
✶ The beginning – To explain how the story started
✶ The story – Tell the main events in order
✶ The end – To make a final comment about the story or how things are now.
So let’s take a look at some phrases you could use to get started with each stage.
➢ You are not going to believe this, but ……….
➢ Did I ever tell you about the time I was …….?
➢ I’ll never forget the time I was ……….
➢ It’s quite a few years ago ……..
➢Talking of……that reminds of the time I……..
➢ This was around the time of ……..
➢ And you’ll never guess who/where/what…….
➢ You should have heard/seen …….
➢And then to top it all……
➢ And the strange/funny/stupid thing was……
➢Can you imagine my surprise when……
➢By the time I’d realised what had happened……
➢Anyway, to cut a long story short……
➢So, in the end what happened was…..
➢ Seems quite funny now, but it didn’t at the time …….
➢Anyway, it turned out well in the end…..
Here are some reaction phrases you can use when actively listening to the story.
➢I’m not surprised
➢I can imagine!
➢What a nightmare!
➢ Sounds awful/terrible!
➢I don’t blame you.
➢Wow, that’s amazing!
➢Oh, I see what you mean.
➢Oh my God!
➢ Were you really?
➢So, what happened?
➢You can’t be serious
Do you like telling stories and anecdotes? What’s the best/funniest story you recently heard? Do you use stories professionally?
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Ciao for now
In Company Upper Intermediate Second Edition, Mark Powell (2010) Macmillan
OneStopEnglish Lesson Share by Gabrielle Jones (Macmillan 2013)
I would like to talk about the time when I spent unforgettable moments with my grandmother who is in heaven and this story is about the last trip we made with her. At that time she said she wanted to go to the beach, who would think it would be the last time we would be together at sea. Later I think she said goodbye, because in a moment in front of the sea she looked at me and said, every time you watch a sunset think about me, I will always be there and soon after she suddenly got sick.
This made me realize something important and that is that we never know when it will be the last time we see someone we love, so we must enjoy every moment with them.
This is a beautiful story about your grandmother who sounds like she was a truly special person. I almost cried when you wrote what your grandmother said to you, “Every time you watch the sunset, think of me.”
You are so right about cherishing every moment with our loved ones for we never know when will be the last time we see them.
Thank you for reminding me of the fleetingness of life.