Despite practicing every day, are you still struggling to speak naturally in English?
This is a common problem and you won’t find the answer in most textbooks.
The truth is there are many ways in which you can improve your spoken English to sound more like a native speaker, but one of the best ways is by using discourse markers.
Discourse markers include phrases such as:
They are used in many different ways but usually serve the purpose of joining sentences together, organise our sentences, or simply to fill in a blank between talking. These are all important skills you need to know to improve your conversation skills.
Let’s look at this conversation below and study some of the discourse markers used.
Hey! How was your exam yesterday?
Well, it was quite tough, but I think I pulled it off
I mean, you clearly studied a lot so I’m sure you did fine.
Mind you I was ill last week and didn’t have much time to study. You know it’s quite hard to study when you have a headache and sore throat.
Yeah of course. School’s don’t seem to take that into consideration, like, most of the time
Well at the end of the day there’s nothing we can do to change it. It’s over now anyway I should try to relax.
I agree! In fact, you should go home and take a rest. You’ve worked super hard today.
You know what, you’re right! I deserve a break.
So, I’ll see you later then!
I mean, you know, well, so
These three are some of the most common discourse markers and are used to stall a conversation.
They are often used to introduce a sentence or begin a story. You’ll notice in our dialogue “well” is used after the first person asks a question, and the second person begins the reply with well.
The word “so” often implies the speaker has something they want to say that they have planned before.
Basically, you can use them whenever you reply to a question and you need some time to think.
You know what
“You know what” is usually used when the other speaker has said something correct and you are agreeing with them for the first time. Here’s an example:
This is also used to stall a conversation and is used when the thing you are about to say is obvious.
"Like" is probably the most common discourse marker, with some people using it in every sentence – although many people find that annoying.
As well as creating a pause for people to think, it is often used to show an exaggeration or something the speaker is unsure about.
At the end of the day
This phrase is used to conclude an argument. If you’ve been talking for a while you and you want to finish the discussion or argument you can use this one.
“In fact” is used to emphasise what the speaker is about to say is true.
More Discourse Markers
I've created a free 3-day email course to introduce you to some of the most common English expressions.
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