In linguistics‏‎, a filler is a sound or word in speaking‏‎ used by someone to show that they haven’t finished speaking yet but are either forming their thoughts into speech or mentally searching for the right word‏.

Common fillers in English are:

  • um – /um/
  • er – /ə/

However, we can also use words (and sometimes phrases‏‎) which don’t add any meaning to what we say but give us time to think:

  • well
  • basically
  • right
  • like

you know what I mean
The idea behind these fillers is to either allow the speaker to keep the conversation (i.e. if they did not make a sound the other person might begin speaking and take the conversation away from them) or to complete a conversation without actually making a meaningful statement.

The written equivalent of a filler is probably chewing your pencil.



In the video we see a humorous take on fillers and modern speech. Well worth a look if you have a few minutes free.

Posted in English Usage, Linguistics.

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