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Conversation strategies: Correcting information in a conversation

Episode 5

In written English, letters, emails, reports, etc we have the chance to correct our mistakes, we can even use tools that help us correct grammar and spelling. However, in spoken English, what is said, has already been said and we can’t change it. That is why it’s important to learn strategies to correct ourselves.

When you make a mistake in English, how do you correct yourself? Well, today we will learn a new strategy: how to correct information in a conversation.

Using “well”, “actually” and “no, wait”

You can correct the things you say with expressions like well, actually and no, wait

A:  Is this you in the photo? Look at how cute you were…

B : Thank you. Yes, that was me. I was 4 in that photo. No, wait, I was 3.

A: Do you remember much about kindergarten?

B:  Not really. Well, I remember my first day of class, my teacher gave me a lollipop because I wouldn’t stop crying, it worked!  Do you remember your first day of school?

A:  Yes, I think so. No, wait… I remember my first day at elementary school, not kindergarten. You have a good memory. To be honest, I don’t remember much from when I was little.

B: I do! I remember there was a tiny bed in my classroom. No kidding. Well, it wasn’t a bed, it was more a little crib.

A: You must be talking about day care, not kindergarten.

B: No, it was Kindergarten, I’m sure. I remember the classroom, my teacher, my classmates and everything…

A: That’s crazy, a bed in the classroom?

B: Yeah, I mean. I started when I was only 2 years old and I supposed it was for us when we were tired or sleepy, I remember sleeping in that crib.

A: So, did you used to take the school bus?

B: Yeah, Uh . . . actually First, my parents would take me to school and then, in high school, I started to commute to school on my own. I would take a bus.

A: The school bus.

B: Yeah, Well, in my country there wasn’t such a thing as a school bus, I just took a regular bus. 

As you can see, in this conversation we used the expressions well, actually and no, wait

At first I said “I was 4 years old in the photo”, but then I remembered I was actually 3 when that photo was taken so I said No, wait and then the corrected the information No, wait. I was 3.

When I was asked if I remembered much about kindergarten, I said Not really but then I said “Well, I remember my first day of class…” Well indicates there’s a correction.

Then I said there was a tiny bed in my classroom, but it wasn’t really a bed but a crib, so I corrected the information using Well. Well, it wasn’t a bed, it was more a little crib.

*A crib is a bed for a baby or young child, with bars on the side to stop the baby from falling out.

After that Chris asked me if I used to take the school bus, I said Yeah, Uh…  actuallyfirst, my parents would take me to school and then, in high school, I started to commute to school on my own.  In this case I’m using actually to correct information.

Chris wanted to confirm if I took the school bus and I first said Yeah but in reality in Perú, where I went to school, we don’t have the iconic the yellow school buses of the United States owned which are owned and operated by a school. What we have is school vans, it’s funny how kids in Lima don’t use buses but vans, and the system is different because these vans offer a private service, they aren’t owned or leased or operated by schools. This is actually an interesting question. Because Chris is from London, he could have assumed that there are school buses everywhere in the world but as far as I am aware, public schools in many developing countries can’t afford to offer that service so they don’t have school buses. That’s why I said, Well, in my country there wasn’t such a thing as a school bus, I just took a regular bus. 

Using “I mean”

You can use I mean to correct yourself when you say the wrong word or name.:

A: I got lost once at a supermarket once.

B: How did your parents find you?

A: Well, the manager, I mean, a cashier told the manager that there was a kid wandering around and he made an announcement through a loudspeaker  

Other examples

  • I love coffee. I mean, dark coffee, never with cream or milk.
  • My friend Ruby is a Spanish teacher, I mean, she teaches English as well.
  • My Jamaican, I mean, he’s half Jamaican, his dad is English and his mom from Jamaica.
  • Now you know 4 different ways to correct your sentences when you make a mistake in a conversation.

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