French Fillers in Speech
Fillers in speech are words that don’t add much meaning to the sentence, but they help with the flow of conversation and allow the speaker more time to think of what to say next. Examples in English include uh, um, well, I mean, I guess, you know?, so, ok, etc. Don’t focus so much on these words when you hear them, but rather focus on the key words in the sentence.
- Quoi is the most common filler that I hear in everyday speech. It can be used to add emphasis to emotions or thoughts or to show impatience. It is usually said at the very end of the sentence.
- Voilà is often used with quoi at the end of the sentence.
- A la limite is mostly used by young people, and can be translated as I suppose or I mean.
- Tu vois ? is the closest approximation for you know?
- Bon begins or ends a thought, similar to ok. It also can express anger or impatience, similar to fine! (Ah, bon ? actually means “really?” and not “good.”)
- Ben (pronounced liked bain) adds emphasis to questions, statements, commands and yes or no.
- Bon ben is used to wrap up a thought or conversation. Translated as ok or well.
- Donc emphasizes a question or command.
- Alors emphasizes an interjection and yes or no.
- Moi is commonly added to commands involving the senses. The closest translation in English is “just.” Regarde-moi-ça ! Just look at that!
- Eh bien means well… at the beginning of a sentence or thought.[not recorded yet]
- Hein ? is similar to eh? at the end of a sentence.
- Euh... is the filler equivalent to uh or um when you’re thinking of what to say next.
- Voyons… is similar to let’s see.