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Session 1 - Discourse markers

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.

Here are eight discourse markers which are common in spoken language:

1. you know

Use: I'm going to tell you some information you already know.

  • You know, I was organising an amazing dinner party last night?

2. actually

Use: I'm going to give you some surprising information or I'm going to correct some information.

  • Actually, it was a complete disaster!
  • ''You never do your homework.'' ''Actually, I have done it this time."

 3. mind you

Use: I've had an afterthought and it contrasts what I've just said.

  • Mind you, I did say 'turn up when you want'…
  • The restaurant was so busy we couldn't get a table ... mind you, it was Saturday night!

4.  as I was saying…

Use: I'm going to return to the topic I was talking about before.

  • As I was saying, I burnt the meat...

5. come to think of it

 Use: I'm going to add something I've just remembered/thought of at the moment of speaking.

  • Come to think of it, I completely forgot to serve dessert.

6. So basically, everyone went home hungry and disappointed.

Use: I'm going to summarise my points now.

  • So basically, everyone went home hungry.

 7. Anyway

Use: I'm going to change topic, go back to the original topic or finish what I'm saying.

  • Anyway, how was your evening?
  • Anyway, I have to go now, speak again soon.

 8. By the way

Use: I'm going change direction to talk about something that's not connected to the main conversation topic.

  • By the way, before I forget, it's my birthday next week...