Session 1

Discourse markers help us to organise and link what we say and write. There are many different kinds, from words we use to show our opinion, to words we use when we don't know what to say. Learn more about some of them in this session.

ክፍለ-ስራሓት ናይዚ ምዕራፍ

ድምር ነጥቢ ናይዚ ክፍለ-ስራሓት 1

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Activity 1

6 Minute Vocabulary

Fortunately, obviously, seriously, ideally. These words do a very useful job. How do we use them - and other phrases - to express our attitudes and ideas? Find out in 6 Minute Vocabulary.

ነቲ ድምጺ ብምስማዕ ነቲ ስራሕ ፈጽምዎ

ነቲ ቅዳሕ ጽሑፍ ኣርእይዎ ነቲ ቅዳሕ ጽሑፍ ሕብእዎ

Finn
Hello! Welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I'm Finn.

Catherine
And I'm Catherine. Today we're talking about words and phrases that we use to express our attitude to what we're saying or writing.

Finn
So two common examples are fortunately, which shows I'm pleased, and I'm afraid, which shows I'm sorry about something. So let's start by listening to Rob. He's talking about electric cars. Are you a fan of the electric car, Catherine?

Catherine
I'm not a fan of any kind of car actually, Finn. If I had one I would probably consider electric.

Finn
Very environmentally considerate of you.

Catherine
Thank you. And before we hear from Rob, here's a question: What is Rob's attitude towards public transport and bicycles? Here he is:

INSERT
Rob
I must admit I'm not sure about the whole idea of electric cars. I mean obviously we need to find alternative forms of energy, but if you ask me, reducing the numbers of cars on the road should be the priority. Ideally we would all use public transport or bicycles. Seriously, I think people should be given tax breaks if they don't own a car! But of course that's not going to happen any time soon.

Finn
So Rob's attitude is that ideally we would all use public transport or bicycles.

Catherine
Or to put that another way, he thinks it would be ideal if we all used public transport or bicycles. By beginning the sentence with ideally, Rob expresses his attitude nicely in just one word. Right. Let's listen for more words and phrases that shows Rob's attitude in this clip.

INSERT
Rob   
I must admit I'm not sure about the whole idea of electric cars. I mean obviously we need to find alternative forms of energy, but if you ask me, reducing the numbers of cars on the road should be the priority.

Finn
So he begins with the phrase I must admit... Now what does that tell us?

Catherine
Well, we usually use that expression when we're going to say something that might be unpopular. Perhaps we're a little embarrassed to say it.

Finn
Yes, Rob knows that a lot of people are keen on the idea of electric cars, but he's going to say something different.

Catherine
That's right. Then Rob used the word obviously. People use obviously to show that an idea is easy to see or understand.

Finn
And by using it here, Rob means that the need for alternative forms of energy is clear to him, even though he has other ideas on the subject too.

Catherine
Exactly. Because he then said if you ask me, reducing the numbers of cars on the road should be the priority.

Finn
So this phrase: if you ask me - it's like in my opinion, isn't it?

Catherine
It is, but it tells us more about the speaker's attitude. It's less direct than in my opinion, and it shows that Rob realises that other people might disagree. Let's have another clip.

INSERT
Rob
Seriously, I think people should be given tax breaks if they don't own a car!

Finn
Seriously. Now why does he use that word here?

Catherine
Seriously shows that Rob knows that his idea might sound like a joke to some people. But he wants to make it clear that it's not a joke.

Finn
Oh yes, people often use it when they have been joking and they want to start being serious, don't they?

Catherine
Yes, they do. Right, listen again:

INSERT
Rob
But of course that's not going to happen any time soon.

Finn
Well, of course is a very familiar expression. Now here Rob uses it to show his understanding of the real situation.

Catherine
Does it also sound slightly critical of the government?

Finn
Yes, I think it does. He's not expecting any new government policies that will change the situation on the roads.

IDENT          
6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English.

Finn
And we're talking about words and phrases that show attitude. Obviously, they are very important for expressing yourself and understanding what other people mean!

Catherine
That's right. But I'm afraid they can be tricky to define in a dictionary, can't they, Finn?

Finn
Yes, they can. In fact you can often only understand their real meaning from the context that they are in.

Catherine
That's right. And it's nearly the end of the show so obviously it's time for a quiz! So question one: Which is correct? a) I must admit I haven't done much work today or b) If you ask me, I haven't done much work today.

Finn
That's a) I must admit.

Catherine
Correct. Good. Now question two: a) Ideally, the weather will affect our plans for the day or b) Obviously, the weather will affect our plans for the day.

Finn
And that one is b) obviously.  

Catherine
Correct. And question three: a) OK, but seriously, what do you really think? b) OK, but of course, what do you really think?

Finn
And this time it's a) seriously.

Catherine
Yes it is. And well done if you got those right at home.

Finn
And now, here's a game you can play with a friend to help you practise these words and phrases. Have a conversation with them and try to use as many of these words and phrases as you can. Give yourself a point each time you manage to do it.

Catherine
That's all we got time for and there's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again soon for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both
Bye!

Downloads

You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary from our Intermediate Unit 15 Downloads page. Remember, you can also subscribe to the podcast version

Vocabulary points to take away

There are a lot of words and phrases used to express our attitude to what we are saying or writing. Two common examples are fortunately (I'm pleased)and I'm afraid (I'm sorry):

  • Fortunately, there wasn't much traffic on the roads,
  • I'm afraid I forgot to buy any bread.

Others are often less easy to define:

I must admit
Use this when you are going to say something that might be unpopular or that you are slightly embarrassed about:

  • I must admit I don't really like his wife.

Obviously
Use this to say that an idea is easy to see or understand:

  • Obviously, we want to help as much as we can.

If you ask me
Use this to give your opinion, especially when you think other people might disagree:

  • If you ask me, too many people go to university these days.

Ideally
Use this to say what you think would be ideal, although you realise it's probably not possible:

  • Ideally, we'd like a four-bedroomed house if we can afford it.

Seriously
Use this to show that you are not joking:

  • Seriously, I'd like to have at least four kids.

Of course
Use this to show you realise that what you are saying is generally known and not surprising:

  • The rush hour is the worst possible time to travel, of course.

Session Vocabulary

  • Vocabulary points to take away

    Fortunately = I'm pleased
    Fortunately, there wasn't much traffic on the roads.

    I'm afraid = I'm sorry
    I'm afraid I forgot to buy any bread.

    I must admit = This might be unpopular or embarrassing
    I must admit I don't really like his wife.

    Obviously = This idea is easy to see or understand:
    Obviously, we want to help as much as we can.

    If you ask me = In my opinion
    If you ask me, too many people go to university these days.

    Ideally = This would be ideal, although I realise it's probably not possible:
    Ideally, we'd like a four-bedroomed house if we can afford it.

    Seriously = I'm not joking:
    Seriously, I'd like to have at least four kids.

    Of course = I realise that what I'm saying is generally known and not surprising:
    The rush hour is the worst possible time to travel, of course.