Do you know what I mean?
“Well….ummm… I guess…”
Navigating English can be tricky – sometimes we use a lot of words that don’t have much meaning in themselves, but add meaning to something else we are saying.
To complement our speech we use filler words and phrases.
Here we’ll give you the perfect thing to say for those situations when you need a few extra words.
1: When you are stalling for time (At the start of a sentence)
We usually use these when we don’t know exactly what we are going to say, or are apprehensive about what we are going to say. You can buy yourself a few seconds using these.
–Well… This is a good filler to use when you haven’t fully formed your next thought
- “Well … I think I could afford it if I cut out lunch for the next two weeks”
–I guess… This can be used when you are a bit apprehensive about what you are about to say
“I guess you could borrow my car… but didn’t you just lose your licence?”
2: Summing up a situation (In the middle or at the start of a sentence)
“He has them for breakfast, for lunch, at work… basically, he’s obsessed with fried tomatoes”
This can also be used at the start of a sentence:
“Why did you cancel your trip?”
“Basically, the whole resort is on lockdown because of the blizzard.”
–Okay, so… This can be used at the start of a sentence as an introduction to a long piece of speech, or retelling a story
“Okay, so, your main jobs are to respond to emails in this account, check and return voicemails, call tech support, reorder kitchen stock, and of course, get coffee, okay?”
4: Fillers in the middle of sentences
This is a very common filler, but use it sparingly – many natives even go overboard with this one!
‘Like’ can be used when you want a minute to pause, or think of your next thought in the middle of a sentence.
“The city is way too busy, like… everyone will be Christmas shopping. Besides, last time we went you, like, almost got lost!”
–Just / Only
‘Just’ and ‘only’ can be used to downplay or to soften the blow of what you are saying
“Can I borrow some money? Just 20 bucks!”
“I can’t believe I got a ticket! I was only over the time limit by an hour!”
‘Even’ is used to emphasize your next word or statement
“It’s so foggy, I can’t even see the street signs!”
“He was drinking all night at our open bar, but he didn’t even bring a wedding gift!”
‘You know’ can be used in the middle of a sentence, to check that the listener relates to and is following what you are saying.
“I want to see the Swedish movie, you know, the one based on that famous book?”
4: Adding fillers to the end of a sentence
–You know what I mean?
This is used to confirm and check if your listener is still following what you’re saying, or to see if they agree with you
“I was just sick of them showing up every weekend with the same pie, you know what I mean?”
‘You know?’ can also be added to the end of a sentence to see if your listener understands you.
“I feel like an amateur at the gym, everyone else seems to know what they are doing, you know?”
This can be used to downplay what you just said…
“Would you ever want to go out with me for dinner or something?”
…or if you are not exactly sure of what you just said
“He works in a bank, managing accounts or something”
Having a range of filler words and phrases will take your fluency to the next level. However, it is important to not overuse them – one or two every 3-4 sentences is enough. We suggest practicing these ‘til they roll off your tongue so they slip seamlessly into your speech!