A question about the use of non-essential words and phrases...

A question about the use of non-essential words and phrases...


Many English speaking people have a habit of adding a few extra non-essential words to their sentences. I think they are used as a nervous habit or as a way to think about how they want to answer a question. Two examples would be "I mean" and the word "like".

Question: "Where are you going for the holidays?" Answer: "Well, I mean, I would like to go home, but I'm not sure if I can get a flight.

Question: "Where did you go last night? Answer: "We like went to the movies, then to my friend's house.

I was wondering if anyone knew if this phenomenon occurred with Spanish speaking people. It would be nice to know in case we hear extra non-essential words. This could cause some problems when we are trying to translate!! LOL

Has anyone else noticed this with English speaking people as well?

updated ABR 12, 2010
posted by Nicole-B
Can I vote the topic twice? ;)) - Issabela, DIC 8, 2009
Good topic, Nicole! - --Mariana--, DIC 8, 2009
Gracias mis amigas. - Nicole-B, DIC 8, 2009
¡Excelente! - Yeser007, DIC 8, 2009

9 Answers


Got it! Nicole, I googled for you and found the following:

In Spanish those "filler" words are called muletillas (or, less commonly, palabras de relleno) and are very common. But Spanish speakers tend not to use one-syllable utterances as much as in English. Instead, they tend to use common words like este (usually pronounced as esteeeee, depending on how nervous the person is), esto (or estoooo) or in Mexico o sea (which roughly means "I mean"). Che is often heard in Argentina. In other areas you may hear es decir (meaning, roughly, "that is to say"). The "er" has its equivalent in the sound "eeeehh," and em is similar to the English "ummm."

Also, it is very common to use pues, which has a variety of meanings. Pues can be used at the start of a sentence as a kind of filler while you can get your thoughts together. Or try a ver, which is to say, "let's see."


Más jemplos en español

* En Costa Rica:
      o mae
      o este
      o vara

* En Argentina:
      o che
      o viste
      o boludo
      o digamos
      o culiao

* En Colombia
      o pues
      o osea
      o obvio
      o ya que ..

* En Bolivia:
      o eshte
      o la cosa es que
      o elay
      o acaso
      o noves
      o pues
      o puej
      o vah
      o entonces

* En México:
      o wey
      o mano
      o aja
      o eh! o eh?
      o es que
      o este
      o no
      o pues
      o si
      o tipo
      o verdad
      o ni modo mano

* En Perú:
      o pe
      o humildad
      o o sea
      o ps
      o que no pegue pe

* En Chile:
      o cachái
      o po
      o así
      o weón
      o que te parió
      o pinche

* En España:
      o eh...
      o joder
      o tío
      o hombre
      o chaval

* En Uruguay:
      o bo
      o che
      o viste
      o boludo

* En Venezuela:
      o Vale
      o chamo
      o o sea
      o ¿sabes?


updated NOV 3, 2010
posted by Issabela
Yes, I definitely hear "wey" around here ALL the time. That is used so much, especially on the radio. - Izanoni1, DIC 8, 2009
heck yea! lol - DJ_Huero, DIC 8, 2009
Thanks, Issa, these are great. - --Mariana--, DIC 8, 2009
This is perfect!! - Nicole-B, DIC 8, 2009
Awk! Some of those "fillers" are swear words to the ears of older people! - mountaingirl123, DIC 8, 2009

You know, Nicole, I think, you know, you have forgotten, you know, the most over-used phrase, you know, in the English Language, but you know, I can't remember, you know, what it is.............

While "like" is the lowest, painful-to-the-ear utterance in English, at least at the moment, this sort of thing occurs in most languages. It's simply a matter of lack of ability to articulate.

updated NOV 3, 2010
posted by 005faa61
I can't believe I forgot that one!!! - Nicole-B, DIC 8, 2009

Pues..este...este...todas las respuestas me parecen...este...excelentes, pues.. cool smile

updated DIC 8, 2009
posted by mountaingirl123
Muy graciosa P. !! - Nicole-B, DIC 8, 2009

These words or phrases are called "fillers" (He's sort of shy and uhm he's got problems er with socialising...) and "false starts" (Well, I've uhm... I saw him last week. I think... I'm not really sure if he called his dad...).

And I know only one such word in Spanish - pues... smile

updated DIC 8, 2009
posted by Issabela
Pues!!...Yes I do hear that a lot. Thanks Issa! - Nicole-B, DIC 8, 2009

In Spanish these are called "muletillas" and sometimes "palabras de relleno."

Besides "pues," which Issa has already mentioned, there is also "o sea" (similar to "I mean"), "este" and "esto" (which are sometimes drawn out at the end). I'm sure that there are more, but I can't think of any at the moment.

I did a quick search and found this on the net: muletillas

updated DIC 8, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1

In Spanish these are called "muletillas" and sometimes "palabras de relleno."

I never knew there was a technical term for this. I thought it was just an annoying habit.

I once worked with a man who added the word "everything" to every sentence.

"I'm going to the store and everything". "It is a sunny day and everything".

Well one day he ordered pizza for the whole staff. I'm sure you can guess what happened....We received a pizza with every single topping (everything!) available.

It is a shame, we were all laughing so hard that we couldn't eat. LOL LOL

updated DIC 8, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
rofl thats hilarious! - cheeseisyummy, DIC 8, 2009
I thought you would like it since cheese was involved!! - Nicole-B, DIC 8, 2009

Anyone notice this one in the list:

En España: o joder

Lol! LOL

updated DIC 8, 2009
posted by cheeseisyummy
lol. No, that one slipped by me. - --Mariana--, DIC 8, 2009
Have you ever heard Heidi slip that into conversation? I am going to pay more attention now!! - Nicole-B, DIC 8, 2009

If this link works, read this interview about Christmas in Argentina and count how many times the person says "este" as a filler.

Interview about Christmas in Argentina

updated DIC 8, 2009
posted by 0074b507
This is great. - Nicole-B, DIC 8, 2009

Yup, I hear this all the time jaja. They actually did a news special on the phenomenon of ignorance (or atleast it sounds ignorant). I believe the new station was either, NBC or FOX...but don't quote me. grin

updated DIC 8, 2009
edited by DJ_Huero
posted by DJ_Huero
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