Free English Lessons

Filler Phrases – Video Lesson

by Oli Redman on 31 December, 2016 , No comments

In this lesson, you can learn about how to sound more like a native speaker in English. So, what’s our topic today?

Well, our topic is, um, fillers.

Uh, what are, er, fillers?

Basically, fillers are things that, you know, you put in sentences when you talk. They, like, give you some, kind of, extra time to think when you’re speaking. If you use fillers, you can sound more natural when you speak, um, English.

1. What Fillers Can You Use?

I’ve already used most of the common fillers in English. Some fillers are used at the beginning of a sentence. For example:

  • Basically…
  • Right…
  • So…
  • Well…
  • Yeah…

For example:

  • It’s worth visiting if you’re in the area.
  • Yeah, it’s worth visiting if you’re in the area.
  • Well, it’s worth visiting if you’re in the area.

Another example:

  • I don’t think it’s a big problem.
  • Basically, I don’t think it’s a big problem.
  • So, I don’t think it’s a big problem.

Some fillers can be used in many different places in the sentence. For example:

  • You know…
  • Like…
  • Kind of…

For example:

  • You need to slow down and think about what you’re doing.
  • You need to, you know, slow down and think about what you’re doing.
  • You need to slow down and kind of think about what you’re doing.

Some filler phrases aren’t even words; they’re just sounds. For example:

  • Um… –> /ʌm/
  • Uh… –> /ʌ/
  • Er… –> /ɜː/

These can also be used almost anywhere: at the beginning of a sentence or in the middle.

2. Practice Using Fillers

You’ve seen that you can use fillers at different points in the sentence.

However, you can’t use fillers absolutely anywhere! Let’s practice. Look at this sentence:

  • You need to take it to the shop and get it looked at.

Where could you use fillers in this sentence? Pause the video and think about your ideas.

Okay? Let’s look.

Of course, you could use a filler at the beginning, like this:

  • So, you need to take it to the shop and get it looked at.
  • Right, you need to take it to the shop and get it look at.

You could put a filler after need to, like this:

  • You need to, er, take it to the shop and get it looked at.

You could put a filler after take it:

  • You need to take it, you know, to the shop and get it looked at.

Or after and:

  • You need to take it to the shop and, uh, get it looked at.

Or before looked at:

  • You need to take it to the shop and get it, like, looked at.

There are no exact rules for where you can and can’t use fillers. However, there are some places where fillers are extremely unlikely. For example, you wouldn’t put a filler between need and to, or between looked and at.

With fillers, you shouldn’t think too much about using them. Fillers are there to give you extra thinking time, not make things more difficult! So, don’t worry too much about where to use fillers; just follow your instincts.

You can even use several fillers together. So, basically, right, if you kind of want to, um, you know, use, like, lots of fillers in a sentence, you can, although you probably shouldn’t.

3. Why Should You Use Fillers?

There are many good reasons to use fillers when you speak English:

  1. You’ll sound more natural. Native speakers use fillers very often.
  2. It can give you time to think. Native speakers don’t always speak with perfect fluency. Everyone needs time to find the right words sometimes. Using fillers can give you a little bit of extra time to think about what you’re going to say.
  3. It shows the person you’re talking to that you haven’t finished speaking. This is really important for having conversations in English. If you’re in the middle of your sentence and you need time to think, what should you do?
    If you just stop talking, the other person might think you’ve said what you wanted to say. Use fillers to show you want to continue, and that you have more to say.

4. Be Careful Using Fillers

Don’t, kind of, like, er, overuse like, you know, fillers. Using filler phrases can become a habit, and if you use them too much, it won’t sound good. Use them, but control how you use them.

Next time you talk to someone in English, and you aren’t sure about which word to use, or how to express your idea, don’t worry! Just use a filler, and you’ll sound much more natural.

Want more practice? Go back and watch the video again. Can you find all of the fillers?

So, yeah, that’s the end of the lesson. Thanks very much for watching!

Oli RedmanFiller Phrases – Video Lesson