If you have difficulty when it comes to introducing yourself to someone for the first time, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. A lot of native speakers also become tongue-tiedtongue-tied: not able to speak because you feel shy or nervous when talking about themselves!
Even so, if your goal is to speak English more fluently, it’s a good idea to develop a clear and brief introduction for yourself.
That way, you’ll be ready to answer the most common questions that people ask each other – particularly in professional situations and business contexts:
- Where are you from?
- What do you do?
- What are your special skills?
- What are you passionate about?
Below are some examples of phrases you can use to introduce yourself and give other people a clear understanding of who you are.
Example of a Professional Self-Introduction
Below is an example of a brief introduction in a formal style. This style is commonly used at a job interview or business event, or in a cover letter.
As you read it, notice the words and ideas included – as well as what is omittedomit: to not include something or someone. There are no idioms, no phrasal verbs, no opinions.
You may also notice that there are no contractions (I’m, I’ve, my name’s), which increases the formal tone of the text.
The goal here is to communicate information about yourself clearly and quickly (in just 100 words), while showing a potential employer or client that you are a serious professional.
Hello, my name is Matt Lemanski. I am the creator of Speaking of English, a blog for intermediate English learners who want to become more fluent in the language. I am originally from the United States and I currently live in Germany. I have been a teacher since 2008, and specialize in business writing and IELTS preparation. Before becoming a teacher, I worked as a copyeditor for government agencies in Washington DC and as a ghostwriter for startup founders and independent consultants around the world. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, practicing photography, and exploring the city by bike.
For more examples of a business-style introduction, check out:
- 5 types of LinkedIn summaries (The Muse)
- How to give an ‘elevator pitch’ at a business event (Indeed)
In contrast to the formal style above, let’s now look at a more informal example of a self-introduction in the conversation below.
Example of a Student Introduction (for IELTS)
If you take the IELTS, your self-introduction may sound a little different, since the Speaking Test is structured like a conversation. Watch the video below and listen to how this top-scoring candidate from Spain introduces himself:
To the question ‘What are you studying, and do you enjoy it?’ Xavier offers not only specific details about the subject he is studying, but also his opinions about the experience:
I’m studying law and I do enjoy it, most aspects of it. But in this final year there is a lot of hard work and a lot of reading, and I cannot say that I enjoy all of this reading. But what I really enjoy is working on case studies. What I mean is discussing cases. I like to exchange ideas with people.
His answer to ‘What are your future plans?’ also includes some good phrases:
I want to have a career in law, but I have to decide which area to specialize in first, and then maybe study for another four or five years. I hope to specialize in environmental law, which is the law that businesses have to abide by to ensure that their practices do not affect the environment.
For advice on effective ‘body language’ at a social event, see WikiHow’s illustrated guide.
Common Phrases for Introducing Yourself
- I’m based in London, but I live in New York. This phrase is used when you want to make it clear that your current living situation is temporary, or you do a lot of traveling because of your job.
- I live in New York, but I’m originally from Lisbon. English speakers like to use this phrase when mentioning their native country or city. It’s more common than phrases like I was born in / I grew up in.
- I’m a colleague of Jane’s. When introducing yourself in a group or at an event (like a party or a conference), it’s helpful to explain your connection to other people in the group or event. Similar phrases include: I work together with Jane / I’m Jane’s brother / Jane and I both study Chemistry at Toronto University.
- I’m the father of two young girls. You can use this phrase if you want to say something about your family (it’s also a simple way for parents to explain why they don’t have much “free” time). Similar phrases include: I’m the daughter of two psychologists / I’m one of eight children / I’m the son of Queen Elizabeth.
Phrases to Describe Your Job or Studies
These phrases are good for both formal situations like job interviews, as well as casual situations like parties.
- I work at English Experts in the Marketing Department. When English speakers want keep their introduction simple (and avoid giving long or complex titles like Senior Vice President and General Manager of North American Sales for Behemoth Enterprises), they often just give the name of the company, and perhaps their department. This phrase also works for students: I study Chemistry at Toronto University / I’m a student at Toronto University, in the Chemistry Department.
- I have worked at English Experts since 2012 / for 8 years. Details about time are nice to include in your self-introduction, but remember that English requires a different verb tense (known as the present perfect) when you use the prepositions for or since.
- I’m responsible for managing the digital marketing campaigns. When introducing yourself to people in the same company or department, you can use this phrase to describe the most important thing you do. Similar phrases include I’m in charge of and I deal with. Notice the ing. This phrase requires a noun (or a gerund, which the noun form of a verb), so you can also use nouns with these phrases: I’m in charge of the website / I deal with the suppliers.
- I hold a master’s degree in Chemistry from Toronto University. This phrase is useful when you want to highlight your educational achievements, but it is typically only found in cover letters and formal documents. In conversation, English speakers use a slightly more informal phrase: I have a master’s in Chemistry / I have an M.A. in Chemistry.
- When not in the office, you can find me on the football pitch. This is a nice alternative phrase for mentioning other activities, especially if you have many sentences that start with I (I work... I'm responsible... I hold...). When not studying Chemistry, you can find me spending time with my family. Notice the ing endings.
Talking About Yourself in an Interview
When introducing yourself in an interview, the person you speak with may want to know more than a few short sentences and simple details about you. They may ask you to ‘tell me about yourself’.
In other words, they want you to tell a story that ties together your present situation, past experiences, and future plans – topics that require slightly more advanced grammar:
- For several months now, I have been working on a project. Notice the verb form here; it differs from the earlier phrase, I have worked. When talking about a project that you plan or hope to finish in the near future, it’s common to use the Present Perfect Progressive: have been doing. (Learning English is also a project: I’ve been learning English since January.)
- My passion for learning languages began 10 years ago, when I visited Japan. To tell a story, English speakers typically use the Past Simple tense (as in visited). It’s also good to give details about place and time, using ago to mark specific times in the past: a few weeks ago, five months ago.
- I would like to become fluent in English so that I can attend university in Canada. When talking about your personal goals, you can use the Conditional form: would like. This common phrase can be used to talk about any project or action you want to do in the future.
Photo by Manja Vitolic