Do I sound like a teacher? Well, that’s like, I mean to say, that’s who I am, you know! Are you with me? To be honest, words are beautiful! You know what I mean? As a matter of fact, many expressions serve very pragmatic functions which add color and excitement to what might very well be dull, dry, and dead. You with me?

So in this “defense of a much-maligned, pragmatic, parenthetical expression” I’m arguing for the right to say “you know.”

My defending “you know” reminds me of the mother who watched her son in a boot camp march. She said, “Oh, look, everybody is out of step except Johnny!” I’m not saying everyone is wrong except me, but, on the other hand, I don’t plan to eliminate all my “you knows.” Let me tell you why. “You know” is a parenthetical expression just like these phrases: as a matter of fact, to be honest, and you understand.

1. When I want to confirm to my audience that I am aware I am telling them something they already know. For instance: It is so hot in August, you know, I am planning to set aside extra funds to vacation at Yellowstone Park during that month.
2. When you want to soften criticism. For instance: You know, you really shouldn’t text while driving.
3. When you want your audience to identify with your imagery. For instance: When the man drove through my yard, you know, he dug ruts that will last all season.
4. When clarifying. For instance: I’m going to buy a new car; you know, one of those elite styles that make people think I can afford it.
5. When used like a question. For instance: Every grandmother has the most beautiful grandchildren in the world, you know?

Um, I agree, filler words can be very distracting if they are just thrown in to cover a pause when choosing a particular word or thought. I once counted 37 “you knows” in a thirty minute presentation. That’s excessive and irritating. If you would not write a filler word in an essay, it probably should not be used in a spoken presentation either. But if you, like, really, um, mean “you know” then use “you know.”

About oneta hayes

ABOUT ME Hello. To various folks I am Neat’nee, Mom, Grandma Neta, Gramma, Aunt Neta, Aunt Noni, Aunt Neno, and Aunt Neto (lots of varieties from little nieces and nephews). To some I’m more like “Didn’t you used to be my teacher?” or “Don’t I know you from someplace?” To you, perhaps, I am a Fellow Blogger. Not “fellow” like a male or a guy, but “fellow” like a companion or an adventurer. I would choose to be Grandma Blogger, and have you pull up a chair, my website before you, while I tell you of some days of yore. I have experienced life much differently than most of you. It was and is a good life. I hope to share nuggets of appreciation for those who have gone before me and those who come after me. By necessity you are among those who come after me and I will tell you of those who came before. Once upon a time in a little house on a prairie - oops, change that lest I commit plagiarism - and change that “house on the prairie” to “dugout on the prairie.” So my story begins...
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