The vernacular of today has a tendency to be filled with filler words – those little words we use to fill up space in an otherwise empty sentence such as “um” and “uh”.

In fact, filler words can be helpful while you’re trying to connect words and phrases while speaking. However, more often than not, they can also make you sound less confident and articulate. These fillers can often get in the way of communicating an idea or thought, making the conversation difficult to follow.

What makes filler words hard to avoid?

If you’re in the process of learning English in Singapore, filler words can be a serious problem when it comes to the quality of your speech. They interrupt your flow when you’re trying to make a point in class or complete an important task at work. And in some cases, it can make a difference between success and failure such as in interviews or client meetings. So why would anyone want to use filler words?

One reason is that we simply don’t know what else to say sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with this! Filler words are often used when a person is trying to organise their thoughts and think of what to speak about next. If you’re really struggling for words, simply take a deep breath and try again.

Another reason might be because you have become so used to hearing them from other speakers that it doesn’t occur to you how disruptive they are when saying it yourself. If you want to work towards sounding smarter, confident and professional, then avoid using these filler words while speaking.

7 Common Filler Words to Avoid

1. Like

Avoid – I am looking forward to like learning more about the English language like I want to contribute more to my company.

Instead – I am looking forward to learning more about the English language. I want to contribute more to my company.

2. Um/Uh

Avoid – Can you, uh, give me until tomorrow to submit this assignment?

Instead – Can you give me until tomorrow to submit this assignment?

3. I mean/I guess

Avoid – Yes, I guess I can give it a try. I mean, I have time to spare after finishing my share of the project.

Instead – Yes, I can give it a try. I have time to spare after finishing my share of the project.

4. Actually

Avoid – Actually, one way to avoid filler words is by becoming aware of them.

Instead – One way to avoid filler words is by becoming aware of them.

5. In order to

Avoid – In order to do well in this subject, I will need to study hard for it.

Instead – To do well in this subject, I will need to study hard for it.

6. So

Avoid – So you can start by using these filler words in moderation to communicate more effectively.

Instead – You can start by using these filler words in moderation to communicate more effectively.

7. Perhaps

Avoid – Getting feedback can help you improve your English faster. Perhaps you can check with your teacher if you’re on the right track.

Instead – Getting feedback can help you improve your English faster. You can check with your teacher if you’re on the right track.

Sound Smarter with ULC

What do you think? Do filler words sometimes help or hinder your speech flow? Try to practise speaking without these extra words by pausing to think about what comes next instead of overusing “um” or “ah”. With just a little awareness and effort, the result is often more concise, polished speech that has a lot more impact on your audience. For more information on how you can improve your proficiency in English, check out our corporate English courses and Essential English group lessons here at ULC today.

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