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English Communication Skill: How do you ask for a date?

English Communication Skill: How do you ask for a date?



Connecting with people.  Getting started —  that is the hardest part in so many human activities.

People who speak English as a second language often ask about colloquial or typical ways of asking a person out for a date.  What is the general American cultural pattern of that conversation?  In the culture of the United States, males can ask and females can ask.

Here are some ideas for you:

Warmup Question

“How are you?”

“How’s it going?”

(Rationale: The answer to this question will tell you whether to proceed forward.  For example, the tone of voice and body language may indicate that the other person is going through a very hard time, say an accident or death in the family. If that is the case, it is not a good time to ask the person out for a date.)

Ask about Schedule

“What are you doing tonight?”

“Do you have any plans on (day of the week)?”

(Rationale:  If the answer is that the person has another commitment or is exhausted, then regroup on your plan for when to do this date.)

Mention Activity

“There’s this cool (activity idea) coming up.”

“I’ve been meaning to check out (activity idea)”

(Rationale:  The appeal of the activity idea might be enough to persuade the other person that going out with you is a great idea!)

Ask for agreement to date or activity

“Do you want to go out?”

“Do you want to (activity idea)?”

(Rationale: Be sure to be direct and to the point.  You may feel shy or uncertain about the other person’s answer.  However, if you are not direct and to the point, then the other person may not even know that she/he has been asked out.)


“You’re just fun to hang out with.”

“You’re just so interesting.”

(Rationale:  Compliments help the other person know just what is their appeal to you.)

Advancing the idea or giving an encouraging description

“It’ll be a lot of fun.”

“The weather’s going to be great.”

“I’ve heard (activity idea) is awesome.”

(Rationale: Putting focus on the activity and the pleasure it will bring eases some of the uncertainty and pressure on the other person to say yes to going out with you.)

Retreat or allowing for space to decide

“Just thought I’d put it out there.”

“Only if it sounds like fun.”

“No pressure.”

“Figured it was worth asking.”

(Rationale: Be observant of the other person’s body language for determining whether they are somewhat indecisive and are not sure.  Taking the pressure off makes it easier for them to agree to go out with you, or not go out with you, on this occasion.  It also doesn’t lock them into never going out with you.  For example, if you suggest ice skating, they could turn you down because they don’t know how to ice skate.)

Once you have the basic phrases engrained in your mind, you can combine for what fits your circumstance.

Also, a second reminder for you to be looking at body language to help you interpret the other person’s response to your question about doing a date or activity with you. You could decide to go with enthusiasm in the form of advancing the idea or giving an encouraging description.  Or you could decide to go with a bit of humbleness in the form of a retreat.   Both are follow-up phrases which give the other person time and space to decide if she or he wants to go out with you or do an activity with you.

By the way, if there is a rejection because of the activity, ask the other person what activity she/he would feel comfortable or excited about.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

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