English Phraseology: Expressing Problems & Sticking to the Issue

learn english1I’ve never had trouble expressing a problem verbally but it is sometimes tricky to keep the focus on that main issue.  In this post, we will be looking at phrases that we can use to present the main problem and alternative expressions that can keep us focused on that topic. Getting sidetracked is very common in discussions. Learning how to politely stop digressions from happening is the sign of a person who has focus and determination, which are good qualities to have in situations like these.. It can be a real challenge and it takes a lot of skill. Be careful not to respond impolitely in the process …just stick to your guns & I am sure everyone will benefit in the end!

Expressing a Problem:

  • The main problem is we are running out of time.
  • The trouble we are facing is affecting staff motivation.
  • The key point to be dealt with here is who will carry out the project.
  • The terrible thing that’s happening is that no one is sharing opinions anymore.

When you start speaking about the main topic at hand (e.g. Oranges ) and someone brings up another issue (e.g. Apples), it’s your job to get the discussion back on track. Here are a few expressions that can help you:

Stopping Digressions:

  • So, where were we?
  • Ok, good point but what were we talking about?
  • Excuse me, can we get back to the issue at hand?
  • Let’s try not to go off at a tangent, ok?
  • Can you stick to the issue, please?
  • We need to agree on a solution today. So let’s get back to that, please.


Vocabulary Boost:

  • Tricky – requiring skill & difficult to do
  • Getting sidetracked – to talk or do something different or less important
  • Digressions – when we focus on things that are not part of the main topic
  • Stick to your guns – continue to maintain your plan or opinion
  • Bring up – mention
  • Back on track – return to the main plan
  • Issue at hand – the topic being discussed
  • Go off at a tangent – start talking about something that is slightly or indirectly related to the main topic.
  • Stick to – keep on track
  • Get back – return

Fluency Builder:

Listen to the podcast and repeat after the speaker. Concentrate on articulating at first. Then, listen again to work on speed of delivery.

Learning Tips:

Use these sentences in role-plays with your classmates or your teacher. Set the scene, plan a short dialogue & use the expressions in context. If you are not following a class at the moment, then simply record your voice while reading the phrases.  Self-awareness is one of the biggest learning tools we have.

Let me know how you get on by Liking, Sharing or Commenting. It would make my day:-)



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