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Use of Special Words/Phrases in Spoken English
 by: Samir K. Dash

Responses to statements

In most speech sessions we use some special response words, though they are not demanded by the speaker of the statements to which these are made.

These type of responses include:

  • Oh!
  • Mm
  • Good
  • Oh dear!
  • I see.

These are made to represent an interest, surprise, pleasure, regret etc.

Even most of the cases we frequently use these to express that we are attending to our speaker’s statements. With the growth of telephone service, these kind of use have increased, as the response maker has to show his interest or reactions to the man at the other side, whom he can’t show it through his physical expressions. Hence he may use the words like Hmm, Errr, Hmm, Errr, Yeah just to compensate the visual expression needed to carry on a good conversation.

In use of modern communication techniques such as internet Chat, the use of emoticons, and smiley also represent such activity in the part of the listener.

Questions as responses to statements

These have the similar kind of function like the general responses to statements as we discussed above. Among such are:

  • Why?
  • What?
  • How?
  • Why not?
  • Who for?
  • Where?

Hesitant Fillers

We often use Hesitate fillers, i.e. some speech forms like um / /, err/ / while we think of what next to say. These are never appear in writing as , while writing we have plenty of time to plan and re-arrange our expressions. But as in the act of speech, there is virtually no time for that we use such words, phrases and sounds to gain time , while we plan for next expressions.

Linking signals in connected discourse

These are in fact a set of words and phrases which we use to link one context to another. Most of such are sentence adverbials, and they generally come at the beginning of a sentence, which is to be connected to the context.Though we use such kind of signals in writing, the vast use of such expressions comes from the act of speaking in any connected discourse.

Such linkers can be grouped into three sections in reference to there occurrence and use:

Starting Linkers:

To start a new train of thought we use well and now at the front of the sentence.


Ram: How was your experience in Puri?
Gopal: It was fine.
Ram: Well, I have also planned to visit that place.

Changing Linkers:

By the way and incidentally are used to change the topic or subject.


Ram: How was your experience in Puri?
Gopal: It was fine.
Ram: By the way, I am planning for a new car.

Listing Linkers:

These include firstly, secondly, thirdly etc. also, to begin with, in the second place and to conclude.


To begin with the cause of unemployment in India can be traced to existing curroption.

Reinforcing Linkers:

In any case, furthermore, besides and anyway are used to reinforce a point in the discourse.


I have never seen him, besides I don’t talk to any strangers.

About The Author

Samir K. Dash is a MA in English (UGC-NET qulaified) from Ravenshaw College, Cuttack (INDIA). Currently he is working as senior content developer at

He can be contacted at his homepage:


This article was posted on March 08, 2005


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