Today I am talking about those “filler” words that exist in every language and which native speakers naturally drop into conversation, without even thinking about it.
Those little words and phrases such as “like”, “I mean”, “well” and “basically” which people use to buy themselves thinking time, to clarify their meaning, or just to fill a silence when they’re not sure what else to say, for example, “So….”
Let’s identify some of these in Italian. If you get the hang of sprinkling them into your chat I guarantee that conversation will go along better and you will ultimately feel more Italian!
1. “Ehhh” This first one isn’t even a word, more a thinking sound, the equivalent of “ummm…” in English. But why not start converting to the Italian version instead?!
2. “Tipo” – This word is equivalent to the English “like” or “I mean”, used when you’re stuck in your thoughts and need a little more time, or to introduce an example.
3. “ Cioè” – this little word is incredibly common, another way of saying “I mean”, to sort of clarify or better explain your previous statement.
4. “Beh” – This simply means “well…” as in the ‘thinking’ well you use when you’re a bit unsure about something. Don’t say it too many times though or you risk sounding like an Italian sheep 😂
5. “Diciamo” – Literally meaning “let’s say” in English, this can be liberally used in conversations when you’re trying to explain something.
6. “Praticamente” – with the meaning of “basically” in English, this is a very useful word if you need some extra thinking time, as with its 4 syllables you can draw it out a bit whilst you figure out what to say next!
7. “Allora” – Last but not least, I love “allora” which has many meanings in different contexts but very commonly is used to mean “So…”. Incredibly useful as a filler! And at the start of a question for example, “Allora, cosa facciamo?”… “so, what are we doing?”.
Seven is the magic number for today, although arguably I really should also have included “quindi” seeing as that’s very very common as well. That one can save for next time.
Ciao, a presto!