6 Filler Words You Need to Know

literallyEnglish is like, the most fun language, you know?

What do you understand from the this sentence? That English the most fun language, right? Why did I add these unnecessary words then? What are these words called? Should you use them? Let’s see!

What are Filler Words?

Filler words are words or phrases that help you fill in the gaps as you talk. They do not add any real value to the sentence. For instance, in the example above, The words like and you know do not make any contribution to the sentence. The sentence would still make sense if I remove them. These words just give you some extra time to think without breaking the flow.

Why use Filler Words?

The use of filler words in speech is important. Imagine this scenario: You’re talking to a colleague, and have to stop every now and then to think of what you are going to say. Wouldn’t the silence be really awkward?

In such a case, fillers can come to your rescue!

Here’s a list of filler words in English:

  • Umm/Err

These can be used to express that you do not know the answer or are confused about something.

Umm, I don’t think these shoes go with your outfit.

  • Hmmm

It can either be used to show that you’re thinking or trying to decide something.

Hmmm, I’d rather not do that then.

  • Actually /Seriously/ Basically

These three words are adverbs and can be easily identifies by the suffix ‘-ily’.

Actually helps you express your point of view when it is different from the majority.

Actually, I feel books are better than Kindle.

Seriously helps you express how strongly you feel about something and basically helps you summarize  your point of view at the end of a discussion.

Basically, I love Harry Potter.

I seriously love Harry Potter.

  • Like

You can use like to take a moment to think of what you will say next.

You know, it’s like, I don’t even know them anymore.

It can also be used to mention an amount that is not exact.

Tina has like ten lipsticks!

  • You know

It can be used when you feel that the listener already knows what you are talking about.

We can still go, it’s not that late, you know?

Should fillers be used?

Yes, they can be. But there are a few points to be kept in mind:

  • They are used only in speech. Do not use them in writing.
  • They are not exactly formal, so try not to use them in office. (In American English, the use of filler words in English is quite common, so this does not apply to those who follow the American style.)
  • Do not overuse them. Use them ONLY when you have to.

So the next time you need time to think, use these words to fill in those awkward silences!



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