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Say I'd like to describe a situation where I naturally (not abruptly) join a conversation. I think the closest expression is "chipping in", but which preposition should I use? (Or do I need a preposition there at all?)

Bonus question: I also heard the idiom "slip in", as in "You should try to slip your thoughts in discussions". Can I use "slip in" in a similar way to "chip in" by not stating what to slip in? (e.g., "You should try to slip in discussions")

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  • The idiom is chip in - the second definition here, never chip on or to. Slip in is different - it has to have an object - 'slip in a question/remark/comment'. Feb 26 at 15:15
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    I think chipping in to a conversation (as opposed to, say, a fund) always implies "abruptly" to some degree, since the person doing this wasn't previously in the conversation. The full OED defines this sense as To interrupt or intrude on a conversation by making a remark. I'd forget about "to slip in" in this context, since it carries unwanted strong allusions to slyly, deviously. Feb 26 at 17:14
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    There are more written instances of chipped in to the discussion than chipped in on the discussion, but they're both fine. Preposition preference is the opposite with break in on / to the discussion, but it's not really important which you use. Feb 26 at 17:17
  • @FumbleFingers - I agree that when someone 'chips in' they abruptly interrupt a conversation in which they were not previously involved, but this doesn't always have to be bad. I was in a bar talking to my brother about the high price of a transmission for my 1985 Audi when a guy standing nearby chipped in and said he had one I could buy for £50. Feb 26 at 20:24
  • @MichaelHarvey: Sure - "chipping in" is often a neutral or even welcome intervention. But it's usually an (abrupt) interruption into an ongoing conversation. Feb 26 at 20:48

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I'd use 'to'… but I'm not sure it ends there.

To chip in to [or into] a conversation is likely to be slightly abrupt, but not necessarily unwelcome.
There's a similar "chime in" which adds perhaps the hint of a bright & breezy addition to the conversation.
Neither of these alone specifically indicates you fully joined the conversation, you maybe just added one small contribution, but it doesn't necessarily preclude it.

You might differentiate further to explain a single interruption by using "chip/chime in with [information/comment.]"

To "slip into" a conversation is different. That implies your were already in the conversation but added some 'extra' information.

"I was talking to Bob last week & managed to slip into the conversation that I might be going to France for the whole of June."

The potentially 'rude' interruption to join a conversation would be to "break in" or "butt in". This definitely carries the implication that your joining was not necessarily welcome, or appropriate.

Your offer of "You should try to slip in discussions" doesn't work, because there is the double meaning that you're talking whilst walking on ice… & fall.
You definitely shouldn't aim to "slip up" in conversations - that's to get something wrong, or make a mistake. Many of these apparent 'directions' in English phrases have specific meanings you cannot hope to be able to guess at.

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  • Wow thanks. I need to comprehend the feelings that people get when theh use them. Feb 26 at 19:30

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