to have a word with someone: 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 this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: England (RP)

a quick you later ? do advice .
I have a quick with you later ? I could do some advice something.

…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. 

Discussion question

Write your answer to this question in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Can you remember the last time you had a word with someone? Why did you need to talk to them?
  • Is there anything you could do with right now?

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