Chatterbox #34 – The art of telling stories in English

Listen to this! That is just one of the ways that people begin stories to get people’s attention. We discuss ways to begin stories in English, and also how people use the present tense to tell a story in the past! People often exaggerate when telling stories and this episode we give you some examples of the most popular exaggerations. And, of course, this episode wouldn’t be complete without a couple stories from Harp and Maura.


Expressions included in the learning materialsjoke

  • The Past
  • Tense v.s. Present
  • Tense Vegas
  • To mind my own business
  • Regis Philbin
  • To grab someone’s attention
  • This one time/One day
  • I got a crazy story for you
  • Listen to this
  • Blah blah blah
  • Do you want to hear a funny story?
  • I thought I was going to die
  • To raise your voice
  • I waited forever
  • Into a million pieces
  • The metro

Sample Dialogue

Maura: Yes. So today’s topic is storytelling, or telling stories. I love to tell stories!

Harp: Me too. I love listening to your stories, Maura.

Maura: Aw, thanks.

Harp: You’re a good storyteller.

Maura: So, people in cultures all over the world traditionally tell stories. Some have oral traditions, but today we’re just talking about regular stories that friends share with friends about things that have happened to them, or crazy or interesting stories that you’ve heard that you tell people that you know. So first we’re going to talk about how to tell a story in English, so some tips about which verb tense to use when telling a story and also some expressions that we often use to begin a story.

Harp: Exactly. And then our second topic is about how people often exaggerate when they tell a story.

Maura: Yes, they make things bigger or better or more dramatic when they tell a story. And we’ll include some expressions that people use when they’re exaggerating their story.

Harp: And then we’re gonna finish by telling some stories.

Maura: Yes, and we’ll try not to exaggerate them too much. OK, so first, when people tell stories they’re about the past, right? You talk about what happened to you, you talk about what happened to you 5 minutes ago or 10 years ago, but it’s in the past.

Harp: Yup, agreed. Maura: But when some people tell stories, they don’t use the past tense.

english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips