Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you think English conversations are linear?

Textbooks often tell you that native English conversations follow a straight line.

That is incorrect.

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Michelle share with you what native English speakers say when they are about to veer away from the main point.

Listen in and learn how to recognize when this happens so that you will know what phrases to use when you want to change a topic in the middle of a conversation in English.

Idioms About Notes

Michelle mentions that in today’s episode, they will discuss about idioms dealing with notes used as transitions in conversations.

At the beginning of the podcast, Michelle used the phrase “side note” to tell Lindsay to remind her about something she wanted to ask after they did the episode.

Lindsay wants to know what the meaning of that term is and why Michelle said it even if she wasn’t actually taking notes.

Michelle answers that we live in a world where we move laterally and things can change in the middle of an exchange.

It is no longer the case where conversations are linear because we are considering and thinking about so many other things at the same time.

In a conversation, it can happen that another topic comes up which is unrelated to what you were mainly talking about.

The idiom “side note” is used to steer away from what you are talking about for a moment and then you mention another thing you would want to discuss then move back.

Here is a quick example from Lindsay:

“I have to be there at 6:30 am. Side note, remind me to tell you the story of the traffic I got into yesterday. Anyway, I’m not looking forward to that day.”

In this example, notice that Lindsay transitions from the topic of what she needs to be in a certain place to remind her to share the story about getting stuck in traffic the other day.

Other Phrases Similar to The Idiom “Side Note”

There are other phrases you can use as a transition when you want to move to a different topic in addition to “side note.”

Here are a couple of sample idioms mentioned by Lindsay and Michelle along with sample sentences to show you how to use them properly.

  • On a different note

This is slightly different from “side note.”

Michelle would say this much more choppy than “side note.”

Lindsay adds it’s a warning that you are changing the topic to something completely unrelated to your main point.


“On a different note, I think we should talk about our new marketing strategy before the next meeting.”

  • On another note

This sample is a variation of “on a different note.”

It is a heads up that you will be mentioning something different from what you are talking about.


“On another note, do you know of any good places to get a haircut around here?”

  • On a more serious note

This is a phrase you can use if you want to change the tone of the conversation.

If you are talking about something lighthearted and you want to focus on something that is much more serious, you can use the phrase “on a more serious note.”

Michelle mentions she often hears this being used in toasts or speeches.


“Brandon isn’t a perfect guy–we all know how terrible his taste in clothes is! On a more serious note, he is perfect for Randy and vice versa.”

  • On an X note

You can say “on a funnier note,” ” on a strange note” or, “on a weirder note.”

It is a good way to alert the person you are talking to as to what you are about to say.

You can insert any type of description to mention that the topic will be changed in some way.

It can be any adjective you want.

Michelle mentions that you can check out this episode AEE 575: Speaking of Natural Ways to Transition in English.

In that episode you will learn more transition options for your conversations in English.


Lindsay and Michelle do a quick roleplay using the transition phrases mentioned in this episode.

In the first scenario, Lindsay and Michelle use “on a different note.”

Lindsay: So I think we should play it safe and reserve the room for 50 people.

Michelle: Sounds good.

Lindsay: On a different note, are you booking the cars or should I?

In this second scenario, Lindsay and Michelle use “side note.”

Michelle: Can you help me move this?

Lindsay: Of course. You know I have strong muscles. Side note, have you seen the new gym on 37th?

Michelle: I haven’t! I’ll check it out.

Lastly, in this scenario, Lindsay and Michelle use “on a more serious note.”

Lindsay: I think you should take out that part.

Michelle: Why? I’m teasing, but then I say “on a more serious note.”

Lindsay: Ok let me read it. “On a more serious note, the company has been having trouble in the past few months.” That is serious!

Michelle: Yeah. Well, it will be fine, but it’s important to bring up.


When having a conversation in English, don’t be afraid to use transitions when you want to introduce another topic.

Native English speakers don’t talk in a linear manner.

There can be mentions of multiple topics in between the main topic you are discussing.

It’s important to know what transitions to use so that the conversation goes smoothly.

What is the transition phrase that you’d most likely use based on this episode?

Share it with us in the comments below along with an example.

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