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Everyday English 1
Everyday English 1

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3.2 Verbal signals

One example of when you can’t see the other person is when you’re talking on the phone. When you’re on the phone, you can find other ways of signalling to the other person while they are speaking. These tend to be little words or sounds like:

yes, no, mmm, oh, ah-ha, go on

or they may be longer phrases, like:

Does that mean …?

Can you repeat that?

What do I do if …?

These are some of the ways that you can ask people to clarify what they’ve said or check that you’ve understood correctly.

Activity 22 Spot the signals

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Listen to the audio below. In the box note down all the verbal signals used in the exchange.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: 12_aud_verbal_signals_master.mp3
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Here are the verbal signals the woman uses in the conversation. Some of them are short words or phrases just to show that she was listening:

  • Right

  • Oh no

  • OK

Others are follow-up questions, encouraging the speaker to continue his story:

  • Did you make it?

  • What did you do?

  • Was it raining?