Unit 27: Towards Advanced
Grammar, news, vocabulary and pronunciation
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Session 1 - Masterclass
Discourse Markers 2
Discourse markers are words and phrases which we use to connect and organise our ideas, such as 'right', 'well' and 'anyway'. They can guide the listener by connecting ideas and telling the listener what information is coming up. Some have other functions:
1. to tell you the truth
This is used to give your opinion - often when you are going to say what you really think or feel, sometimes when you are just about to insult someone.
'Well, to tell you the truth it was a bit of a crazy idea'
'She asked me if I liked her hair and I said I did, but to tell you the truth it was awful!'
2. I mean
We use ‘I mean’ when you’re about to explain or correct a statement, or often just to give yourself time. It’s like a filler.
'Well, to tell you the truth it was a bit of a crazy idea – I mean, we normally just go out for dinner!'
'You can't just quit university! I mean, how on earth will you ever get a good job?'
3. you see
This means - I’m about to give an explanation or I’m going to give you some new information.
'But you see I thought everyone would love the idea'
'You want to know where babies come from? Well, you see....when a mummy and a daddy love each other...'
4. in other words
This is used to explain something in a different way, either something you’ve already said or something the person you are having a conversation with has said.
'I've already bought all the tickets and they are non-refundable…so in other words I've lost a lot of money!'
'She said that she had a headache. In other words, she didn't want to come.'
5. at the end of the day
We use this when you’re about to say the most important thing after you’ve considered everything else…kind of like a summary.
'Well at the end of the day, it's only money and Christmas is coming…'
'I know dinner was expensive and you don't have a lot of money at the moment, but you made your family happy and, at the end of the day, that is what's important.'
6. I know
This is used when you have a sudden idea at the time of speaking.
'Yeah but you won't have enough money to buy any presents for your family. I know! Why don't you take them all skydiving as your gift to them?'
'How can I manage my time better? I know, I'll buy an organiser and make a note of all my meetings and appointments.'
7. so to speak
This is used when you’ve used an expression or metaphor, but you want to emphasise that what you said is not meant literally, you’re using it metaphorically.
'That's a great idea… they'll be over the moon, so to speak!'
'...and after one good kiss, we fell head over heels in love, so to speak.'