Miles Kington: A total waste of space, if you get my drift

'One of these phrases occurs in almost every sentence uttered in the British Isles and is used to mark time'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

I have received many requests to continue my occasional series of Learning English as a Fourth, Fifth or Sixth Language which, if memory serves, I last reactivated two months ago.

So, today I am examining the phrases which the British use, as it were, when they cannot think what to say. One of these will occur in almost every sentence uttered in the British Isles, and is used to mark time when the speaker is (mentally) drawing breath and trying to remember, so to speak, how the sentence started.

(Already in the first two paragraphs I have used three of these all-important, useless phrases – "if memory serves", "as it were" and "so to speak". See what a total waste of space they are? Get the idea? Here we go, then!)


You see
The thing is
If you like
As you will
Now you come to mention it
If you really must know
Not to put too fine a point on it
No two ways about it
Be that as it may
Not as such
Chance would be a fine thing
All other things being equal
Fair's fair
Fair dos
I take your point
You may well be right
I see where you're coming from
I see where you're going to
I see a sign ahead saying "No Through Road"
I see where you may have to do a U-turn
I see
Point taken
I hear what you say
I take on board what you say
I throw it overboard again
I catch your drift
I'm sure you're right
I'm sure you're right, but
On the other hand
Between you and me
Between you, me and the gate-post
To be quite honest
As I see it
Tell you what, though
Not in my book
If you ask me
It goes without saying
And one cannot say this too often
All things considered
At the end of the day
Other things being equal
The way I see it
Any road up
The long and short of it is
When you think about it
When all is said and done
When push comes to shove
When shove comes to push
When the red red robin goes bob bob bobbing
When the midnight choo choo leaves for Alabam
When lilacs last in the backyard bloomed
When you and I were young, Maggie
It's a funny old world
It's a funny old world we live in
But the world's not entirely to blame
God moves in a mysterious way
And he plays a mysterious game
Some say that he plays cricket
And some he plays at chess
But whatever game he plays at
He leaves a terrible mess
So to speak
As it were
Pour ainsi dire
Oh, hello officer
I can explain everything
You see
I was just walking down the road
When suddenly this enormous voice
Yes, spake from the heavens, saying:
I command you to
Steal that motorway cone!
So I had no option
No kidding
I kid you not
Straight up
Fair dinkum
As God is my witness
Cross my heart
Hope to die
'cause Jeffrey Archer
Taught me to lie...


I am afraid the computer has taken leave of its senses. Back to normal tomorrow