SPEAKING EXPRESSIONS

When people can't think of a word, or need to stall for time, they use a hesitation device. Other times, they need to clarify something. Here's a list of expressions which are used spontaneously when people talk and each of them has a different purpose. When used, you sound more natural

When talking, people combine them NATURALLY

Hmm . . . That's a good question. Let's see . . .

That's a tough one. You know, I'd have to think about that.

Um, I'm not sure. Let me think about that for a second.

what do you call it... Hold on... I have it right there... Yes!

"Well... I don't know!" (Better than just say "I don't know" )

REMEMBER: You can start a new sentence right after the pause;

you don't necessarily need to continue the same sentence:
"The reason why it happened is... well... it's actually hard to say!"

Hesitation Expressions

These hesitation fillers are used to buy time while your mind thinks about what exactly you are going to say. Sometimes the last sound can be stretched out until you are ready to start your sentence.

Noises

  • em...

  • er...

  • mm...

  • Well...Hmm...Um...Ah....

Filler phrases

  • ...you know...

  • ...I mean...

  • ...you see...

  • Well,

  • The thing is...

  • It's like this, you see...

Stalling for time

  • Let's see (now)...

  • Now let me think...

  • Now, just a minute...

  • Hang on...

  • Hold on.....

Stalling for time when answering a question

  • That's a good question...

  • That's an interesting question...

  • Gosh, that's a hard one...

  • I'll have to think about that...

When you can't find the exact word to describe something

  • ...sort of...

  • ...like...

  • ...kind of...'

Introducing ideas that bring contrast, surprise or something unwelcome

  • Actually,...

  • As a matter of fact,...

  • To be honest/frank,...

  • In fact, ...

  • The fact is...

Searching for a way to express something

  • How shall I put it?

  • What's the word I'm looking for?

  • How do you say that?

  • How can I explain this?

  • What is that word?

  • It's right on the tip of my tongue.

  • ...what's it called?...

Showing you are reluctant to speak for fear of the effect

  • What's the best way to put this?

  • How shall I put this?

  • What I'm trying to say is...

  • Let's put it this way...

  • Where should I start?

Asking for clarification

Do you mean that......?

Could you rephrase that, please?

I'm not sure I understand the meaning of the word......

I'm not exactly sure what I need to do

Formal: I'm afraid I am not quite clear what you mean by ...
Formal: I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean by ...
SemiFormal: I'm sorry, but could you explain what you mean by ...
SemiFormal: What do you mean by ... ?

Sorry, I didn't quite hear what you said.

I beg your pardon?

  • I beg your pardon, but I don't quite understand.

  • I'm not quite sure I know what you mean.

  • I'm not quite sure I follow you.

  • I don't quite see what you mean.

  • I'm not sure I got your point.

  • Sorry, I didn't get your point.

    Informal: I don't quite see what you're getting at.

Responding to the examiner

That sounds interesting/good/great.

I'd like that. /I wouldn't like that.

It's the kind of thing I like/I'm interested in.

I'm not really interested in......

Expressing preference

I would/wouldn't like to .......

I'd rather + bare infinitive +than + bare infinitive

I suppose I would prefer to..............

rather than + bare infinitive

If I had to choose, I would + bare infinitive

I'd probably choose...

Explaining your choice

I'd probably choose.....

My first choice would be.....

I think.......would suit me best because.....

I'd choose..........because it is important to me to....

I think ... would be best because...

I think most......would find ........more interesting.

I think......has more to offer.......since....

I don't think.......are into ......and that's why I wouldn't choose it.

Giving advice

If I were you, I'd .......

The best course of action would be....