If you are doing an English exam where in part of the exam you are evaluated on your speaking ability (for example, Cambridge First Certificate, Certificate of Advanced English, IELTS etc...), it is important that you use varied phrases when speaking.

This is particularly important in the parts of the speaking exam where you have to have a conversation with another student (parts 3 and 4 of the Cambridge speaking exams). In these parts, you are being evaluated on not only how well you can express your opinion on a topic in English, but on how well you verbally interact and communicate with the other student(s).

With the verbal interaction between you and the other student(s), the people marking you will be looking out for the phrases you use when agreeing and disagreeing with the opinions that the other student(s) are expressing. The mistake which most students make when doing this, is they just say 'I agree' and 'I disagree/don't agree' when doing this. There is nothing wrong with using these phrases, but if these are the only ones you use to do this, you will lose points for using a limited vocabulary in the exam.

Fortunately, there are many other phrases you can use to agree and disagree when speaking in the exam. And below, I will show you some:

Agreeing phrases

Remember after you use these phrases you have to say a little about what you agree with that the other person said.

  • I think so too.
  • I think the same as well.
  • Exactly.
  • I couldn't have said it better myself.
  • I concur with you. (very formal)
  • I am of the same opinion.
  • You're right.

Agreeing and giving another reason why

  • In addition to that,...
  • On top of that,...

Disagreeing phrases

Remember after you use these phrases you first have to make it clear what you disagree with. After this, you have justify why you think what the the other person has said is wrong:

  • I'm sceptical that...
  • I have my doubts whether...
  • Maybe it's me, but I can't see...
  • I don't think it matters if/whether...
  • But, you're not taking into account...
  • Honestly, I don't/can't see...
  • From my personal experience,...

Disagreeing by asking a question

A useful and polite way to disagree with what a person has said is to use a question to do it in. When doing this, you can either ask them to support the argument they have made:

  • Why would you think that?
  • Really?
  • Could you explain why you would think that?
  • So, you think that...?
  • Do you think that...?

Or say in the question you ask them what your opinion is:

  • But don't you think that...?
  • Perhaps, but don't you think that..?
  • Imagine if you.... Would you...?
  • What would you do if you were... Would you...?
  • If you were..., would you...?
  • What about...? Do you think that...?

Partly disagreeing phrases

Sometimes you'll disagree with part of what somebody has said. To partly disagree with somebody, you first have to tell the person what you agree with (to do this, use the below phrases). You follow this by then telling them what you don't agree with what they have said. And to do this, start by using the above disagreeing phrases (e.g. '... But I have my doubts whether most people would pay so much money for a new mobile.').

  • I think you are right about... But...
  • I agree with you that... But...
  • You have a point about... But...

Agreeing after disagreeing phrases

To tell the person that you now agree with their opinion after you initially disagreed with them, you can use these phrases.

  • You're right, I didn't think about that.
  • You're right, I didn't consider that.
  • You have a point.
  • You could well be right.

Still disagree phrases

To tell the person that you still don't agree with their opinion and to end your discussion on the point, you can use these phrases.

  • I'm afraid I still don't agree with you.
  • I'm still not convinced.