have a word: meaning and explanation

to have a word with someone = to speak to someone, probably only for a short time.

When we ask if we can have a word with someone, it is often because we want to ask for their advice about something (as the speaker in this dictation is doing).

It can also be used when we want to give someone some advice, e.g. I need to have a word with Steven about the way he talks to customers. I think he can come across as a bit aggressive sometimes.

It is also useful as a way to ask to talk to someone about something. e.g. Can I have a quick word with you about the presentation next week?

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: England (RP)

? .
a quick you later ? do advice .

About the sentence

…I could do with some advice…

I could do with sth is a nice phrase for saying that you need something, e.g. I hardly slept last night – I could do with a coffee.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: North America

– it's .
I need to a neighbour about – it's woken 5 nights .

About the sentence

…5 nights in a row…

The phrase in a row is used to talk about things happening consecutively, without interruption. e.g. He was fired after turning up for work late 4 days in a row.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: England (RP)

wants to with me – I hope it's .

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Can you remember the last time you had a word with someone? Why did you need to talk to them?