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Filler phrases such as “tell me something,” “by the way,” “wow,” “okay,” “exactly,” and more can be handy for daily life in English. Here are the key ones!

Filler words in English serve the purpose of bridging pauses and “empty” moments in conversations, providing time to think about the next response or how to answer a question.

While some linguists may view the use of filler words as a sign of a limited vocabulary, these words often develop into a distinct “speech style” for individuals who communicate fluently.

In reality, filler words play a significant psychological role. There are moments when it’s necessary to pause and think or provide an approximate answer; unlike robots, we cannot instantly produce the correct response.

This article explores twelve filler words in English commonly employed by both native and non-native English speakers.

 

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You know

This is a genuine filler word. It lacks a specific meaning but is frequently employed by native speakers.

Certainly

This term is utilized to convey active listening or agreement with the person you are conversing with. It can also substitute for “yes” and carries a stronger emphasis than the word “yes.”

Basically

The final filler word in our compilation is commonly employed in extended conversations or presentations to introduce a pause, allowing the speaker to structure or gather their thoughts.

You see
This expression holds little meaning in English; it functions as a genuine filler phrase. Occasionally, it is employed alongside a thought that you suspect the person you are speaking to may not comprehend or be aware of.

By the way
This term means “incidentally” and is utilized to introduce a minor topic that is not directly related to the subject being discussed.

Exactly
This filler serves to fill a pause in the conversation and is employed to convey agreement with the person you are speaking to. It can be used interchangeably with the words “yeah” or “you’re right.”

To be honest
When faced with an uncomfortable question or when you prefer not to answer, this expression is a useful choice.

For example: (in response to the question in #5): To be honest, not as much as I made at my previous job.

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Well
This term is commonly employed to buy some time or collect one’s thoughts.

Wow!
This is an interjection in English that is occasionally used when one is at a loss for words. For instance, if your friend buys a new pair of shoes, and when she shows them to you (even though you don’t like them), you might say “Wow!” to avoid hurting her feelings. However, “wow” is also versatile, expressing astonishment, surprise, happiness, or excitement.

Okay
Everyone is familiar with this expression, used to indicate agreement. It is frequently utilized in both spoken and written language, with the written form sometimes shortened to “ok.”

No way
This is an apt expression when you are taken aback, unable to find the right words, or find it challenging to believe something you have seen or heard.

Tell me something
If you wish to pose a direct question, often of a personal nature, you can use this expression as an introduction. For example, “Ann, tell me something, how much money do you make?”

Certainly, an overabundance of these words may create some discomfort for the listener, and it’s probable that you’ll be prompted to elaborate on your statement. However, when employed sparingly, they can assist in facilitating smooth conversation and expression.

What is your English level?

Find out your A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 level of English with our quick, free online test.