We see and hear gossip every day – in newspapers, on social media and on our daily commute. We caught up with our English writer, Grace, who explains why we gossip and, if you want to, how to do it in English

What is gossiping?

Gossiping is universal. In other words, we all speak about other people’s private lives; as humans, it is in our nature to be curious and keen social beings. Gossiping can be seen as cultural learning (if spoken well about one another). Time even says that “gossip helped our ancestors survive.” So we’ve put a guide together on how to gossip in English from why we do it to starting a conversation to gossip effectively including key expressions.

But first, let’s take a look at what gossiping means to English people! As an English person, I relate the term to quite a negative connotation. I don’t like gossiping. People get their daily dose of celebrity gossip on TV or in many magazines, for example, some of the biggest magazines in the UK are primarily devoted to uniting and entertaining their audience through the latest celebrity news. Gossip makes news. 

But why do we do it?

Why do we gossip 

According to Time:

“People hearing gossip — good and bad — about themselves, as well as negative gossip in general, showed more activity in the prefrontal cortex of their brains, which is key to our ability to navigate complex social behaviours.”

Gossip is clearly key to our growth and stimulation, but can be positive talk about people too, so let’s talk about how to gossip in English.

How to gossip with a question

We don’t want to evoke bad talk here, so let’s use gossip as a form of speaking about other people positively! If you’ve heard a bit of news or know something about someone you’d like to share, start the conversation by asking a question:

  • Hey, have you heard the news?
  • Can you guess what happened the other day?
  • Did you see that TV show?
  • Did you read that article I sent you?
  • Have you seen the headlines?

Other than asking a question, you could also be sneaky and start it with a big statement.

How to gossip with a statement 

When starting a conversation with a question, you’ll evoke intrigue in the other person. However, a statement may be more powerful. You could start the conversation to further the excitement saying:

  • You’d never guess what happened the other day…
  • Oh my gosh, I didn’t tell you….
  • I have been waiting to tell you something I found out!

There are some key phrases to spark the conversation, but if the other person is gossiping in a nasty way, you may want to change the chat.

How to stop gossiping in English

If you don’t like what you hear, you may want to be polite and say:

  • How about we talk about something else?
  • Oh, what is this weather? It’s been raining all week. (Weather is always a topic of conversation in the UK and will most likely be raining at some point! Here’s our tips on how to survive the weather.)
  • What comes first, the chicken or the egg? (Here’s our top ten jokes for you to change the conversation!

So, I hope I’ve cleared up how to gossip in English! 

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