What do you do? Talking about your job In English

Today I’m going to help you move on in conversation and ask a question that could help you have a slightly longer conversation than normal. We’re going to look at the phrase, what do you do?

Now, this is a very good question that you can ask people when you are waiting at the bus stop or at a party or having lunch with people or simply having a coffee with friends and meeting some new people that you don’t really know even on an English course. So first of all, we need to get things straight because often learners of English confuse, “What do you do?” with “What are you doing now?”

What are you doing is present tense? And this means, ‘What are you doing,?’ right now?

What are you doing right now?

What are you doing?

I’m brushing my hair.

What are you doing?

I’m drinking a coffee.

What are you doing?

I’m getting ready for work.

But if I say to you, ‘What do you do?’

Oh, I’m an English teacher.

Oh, that’s nice.

What do you do?

I’m a nurse.

Oh wow. Really? That’s amazing.

A little tip! When somebody tells you what they do for a job. It’s common politeness in British English for you to reply with a compliment. So that means say something nice about the job they do. Even if it’s a job you wouldn’t want to do yourself. Maybe something like I’m a dustbin collector. Oh wow. I bet you find some really interesting things.

So that’s how we use. What do you do in English to ask what somebody’s job is? Because if you were to say, ‘What’s your job?’ That sounds a little bit Bohemian. It sounds a little bit direct and a little bit awkward.

And by asking that question, you could also put the person you’re speaking to in a very awkward position and no one likes to feel awkward. If you something like, what’s your profession? This could also be awkward because some people do jobs that they don’t consider are professions. For example, working in a shop, a sales assistant or a postman. They aren’t necessarily professions. And asking someone that question could make them feel awkward and uncomfortable and less likely to want to continue speaking with you. So by our skin, what do you do? You can get a more positive answer. I hope that helps. So tell me, what do you do.

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