“English is like, totally fun to learn, you know?”
If you take out the words “like,” “totally” and “you know” from that sentence, you’re left with a perfectly understandable sentence:
English is fun to learn.
So what’s the point of all those extra words, then?
Words like “totally” and phrases like “you know” are called filler words, and they’re used, like, literally all the time.
You’ve probably heard lots of filler words being used in conversations or in movies and TV shows. These might not seem useful, but they are actually a pretty important part of the English language, especially in American English.
Filler words can be an English learner’s best friends, if you use them correctly and not too often.
What Are Filler Words?
Filler words are words (and phrases) that are used to fill silence when you’re speaking. They’re words that don’t add any real value to the sentence. They simply keep you going while you come up with the rest of your sentence.
Their actual name is “discourse markers,” but they’re much more commonly known as “filler words.”
You might already use filler words without realizing it. When you can’t think of the right word to use in a sentence, you might say “umm.”
This gives you a break while you think, without an awkward, silent pause.
Since filler words don’t really add any meaning to the sentence, you don’t need to think about using them. This leaves your brain free to think of other things—like the word you’re trying to remember.
Most beginning speakers are afraid of pauses. They believe their audience will think they are inarticulate if they pause to think of what to say next, so they use filler words to avoid the silence. However, a pause is actually more impressive than a filler word. Listeners know that the speaker is thinking, trying to find the right word.
They respect this. Sometimes a pause can actually improve a speech, as when an actor uses a dramatic pause to rivet the attention of his audience.
A speaker shouldn’t be afraid to pause occasionally during a speech; it shows self-confidence.
Johnnie Urban, author and speaker trainer says,
“I remind myself that I have the floor and that nobody is going to interrupt me,” she also adds, “I tell myself that it’s okay to be silent. When I’m collecting my thoughts, I believe I appear more cerebral and deep in thought if I remain silent for a second or two. I appear to be the wise professor who is about to say something profound. I find that the audience will sit up and pay more attention. I tell myself that what seems like a long pause to me is probably a short pause to those in the audience.”
Brittany Hoff Gill of the Eagle Toastmasters in Eagle, Idaho, believes the way a speaker views the situation also affects the “ah” quotient. “Filler words generally come in when you don’t view the presentation as a conversation,” she says. “This makes you nervous and tense, and then you have a tendency to use filler words.”
Use Filler Words in Moderation
Like with anything else, you could use filler words too much. Overusing filler words (using too many, too often) can make you sound unprofessional. Even worse, it can make it difficult to follow your sentences. So do use filler words when you speak, they actually can add some personality to a bland sentence or statement, but don’t use them too much.
This article is a compilation from several different resources.
15+ Quick English Filler Words You’ll Thank Yourself for Learning by YULIYAGEIKHMAN.
Download the complete article: Available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Toastmaster website CUTTING OUT FILLER WORDS
Johnnie Urban Authentic Public Speaking and Creator of the Speaker Start-up Kit