“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?”

English Lesson: Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?

One of the other members of your softball team made a joke that offended you. You don't embarrass him in front of the whole team, so after practice you ask him to talk privately with you.

Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?

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You say "Hey" at the beginning of a sentence in casual English when you want to get someone's attention. For example:

Hey, Hitomi, can you hand me that box over there?

It's common to say "Hey" before you ask someone a question, or when someone has done something that's wrong or unfair:

Hey, you're taking up the whole bed!

Use "hey" with people you know or are familiar with. When you're talking to people you don't know as well, "Excuse me" is more polite.

Can I talk to you?

When you have to talk to someone about a serious, and maybe uncomfortable, topic, it's good to start by saying:

Can I talk to you?

This phrase alerts the listener that you're not just making small talk; you have something serious about. Here are some examples of conversations that you may want to start by saying "Can I talk to you?":

  • You need to reprimand one of your employees for doing something wrong.
  • You just got some bad news, and you need to share it with your partner.
  • You're going to break up with the person you've been dating.

If you want to make this expression a little bit less serious (but still pretty serious), add "for a minute" or "for a second".

To make it more formal, use "May I", "speak with", and "for a moment" instead:

Jessica, may I speak with you for just a moment?