Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

However, you might think that it’s only used as a filler. That’s not true!

There are a bunch of reasons why natives use “ya know” and we’re going to show you what they are and how you use them too in this episode.

Today we start with a listener question:

Hi Lindsay and Michelle, how have you been?

My name is Saulo. I’m from Salvador in Brazil and I am a big fan of you guys. Thank you so much for the work on All Ears English. You girls rock! Today I want to ask about the phrase “you know”.  Since I started to study English harder, I’ve come to realize that Americans say it all of the time. Every once in a while I try to use “you know” too, but I’m afraid to be using in the wrong way. Could you help me? Thank you very much. Bye.” – Saulo Sardeiro


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When and why do natives use “ya know”?

  • When you’re looking for agreement on a fact
  • When you’re looking for agreement on a feeling
  • When you’re opening a statement before you share your opinion (you know, I don’t think….)
  • As a filler word, used when thinking
  • Used as an opening when you’re going to share your point
  • When you’re unsure of yourself, as a way of being indirect
  • When you’re not being honest or when you’re making something up and looking for agreement, you don’t want empty moment of silence if the person doesn’t jump to agree with you so you use “ya know” to fill in the empty space

Lindsay’s experience interview natives this summer:

Over the summer Lindsay took a road trip across the United States, Here is her perspective on how natives used “ya know”:

During my interviews and while editing the videos I heard a lot of “likes” and “ya knows” and they did tend to come from younger people, but using “ya know” is natural English. When we used these videos to create our course we didn’t edit them out. We used them to show you real English.

When you decide whether or not to use “ya know” don’t always assume it’s just a bad way to fill in the space. Focus on Connection NOT Perfection. On this show we use “ya know” a lot and we never edit this out of our episodes because we want to show you real English the way it’s spoken by normal people. However, if you are giving a speech or if you are in a more formal speaking situation you should try to avoid using it.


Have you tried to use “ya know” in your daily English conversations yet?

We recommend that you start by inserting it once into your practice conversations and see how it goes.

Little by little you will start to feel more comfortable using this phrase.


Do you have any questions?

Let us know in the comments below.

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