There are many phrases in English that have hidden meanings. One of these phrases is  – We need to talk. This phrase is a seemingly innocent phrase. Upon hearing this phrase you might think about making a nice cup of tea and sitting down for an enjoyable chat about the movie you saw last night or the best Indian restaurant in town. However you might need something stronger than a cup of tea – and you should be prepared for a much more serious conversation.

We need to talk is a phrase that people in a relationship should be aware of. It is usually said when one person is unhappy with the other. It is a phrase that often leads to the end of a relationship. We need to talk is uttered when there is a serious problem that needs to be discussed. Perhaps the person has Of course it may be possible to successfully resolve or overcome this problem – but be prepared for some rocky times ahead.

we need to talk

Time for a serious discussion…

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of this phrase in use.

Sarah and Steve

Sarah has been unhappy with her boyfriend for a while now. Steve doesn’t give her much attention and hasn’t done anything romantic for months. Sarah has tried to talk to Steve about this problem but he has brushed it off. Sarah is at the end of her tether. Steve knows something is wrong but hasn’t done anything about it.

  • Steve: What are we doing tonight?
  • Sarah: I don’t feel like going out.
  • Steve: Come on! I want to meet the lads later and watch the football.
  • Sarah: No Steve. We need to talk.
  • Steve: Oh.

After hearing this phrase Steve would already know that he is very close to being an ex-boyfriend. He may decide to fight for Sarah or he might accept his fate. Either way there will be a change in this relationship very soon.

Jason and Lisa

Jason and Lisa have been married for a couple of years. Recently Jason has suspected that Lisa is cheating on him. Lisa has frequently arrived home from work late and has been popping outside for secretive phone calls. Today Jason found a romantic note in Lisa’s purse – and he didn’t send it. Jason has been frightened to confront his wife but has decided enough is enough. Jason picks up the note and walks into the living room. Lisa is watching TV.

  • Jason: Lisa.
  • Lisa: What? I’m watching TV. Make it quick.
  • Jason: We need to talk.

Lisa turns around and sees Jason holding the note. At this point Lisa knows she has some serious explaining to do.

We need to talk – We need to have a very serious conversation about our relationship.

Useful expressions:

  • break up (phrasal verb) – To end a relationship.
  • brush off (phrasal verb) – To ignore something or to pay very little attention to it.
  • rocky times (idiom) – Difficult times.
  • end of your tether (idiom) – To be so annoyed or frustrated by something that you cannot deal with it any more.
  • cheat on (phrasal verb) – To be unfaithful (romantically) to someone.
  • elephant in the room (idiom) – An obvious problem or issue that people avoid talking about or even acknowledge
  • enough is enough – To have had enough of something and decided that it should stop.
  • face the music (idiom) – To accept responsibility for something you have done.
  • it is what it is – Accepting and acknowledging a situation as unchangeable or unavoidable, often with a sense of resignation or realism.


  • Have you heard this phrase before?
  • Have you ever said this phrase – or has it been said to you?
  • Is there a similar phrase in your native language?

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