Today’s English lesson is about DISCOURSE MARKERS and how we use them in English when we want to change the topic when we are speaking or writing.
A discourse marker is a word or phrase like ‘by the way’, ‘incidentally’ or ‘right’. We use them to manage, connect or segment what we say or write.
In other words, when we want to break up long pieces of speech.
They are also known as linkers or sentence connectors.
We will focus this lesson on the discourse markers incidentally, by the way, speaking of, and that reminds me.
By the way
Imagine you are having a conversation with someone and you want to change the topic. To do this we can use ‘by the way‘.
Take a look at the following sentences:
- I ran into Jim at the gym the other day. By the way, how is your training going? Are you still preparing for the marathon?
- This lasagna is delicious. By the way, have you heard Jenny has lost her job?
You can see that in both these sentences we have changed the topic of the conversation by using the discourse maker ‘by the way.’
Incidentally and by the way are used in a similar way. In fact, you can substitute one for the other most of the time.
Look at these examples:
- I had to take Paul to the hospital last night. He wasn’t feeling well. Incidentally, how was your English exam yesterday? Did you pass?
Another discourse marker we can use is ‘speaking of…’
Look at the following example and see how we use it.
- There were a lot of teenagers at the mall today. Speaking of teenagers, didn’t Jenny have an English exam yesterday?
As we can see, the word ‘teenagers’ reminds the speaker of another topic and uses ‘speaking of…’ to change the topic.
Here’s another lesson for you if you want to study some more.
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