• Come to think of it, discourse markers ...

Come to think of it, discourse markers are fairly useful!

Pablo Olguín

Publicado por Pablo Olguín

English language is full of words and expressions which organise, comment on, or to a certain extent frame what we say. This means that discourse markers can guide the listener by connecting ideas and anticipating information. To illustrate this point, let us analyse the following example:

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A: So you live in Chicago? 

B; Well, I live near Chicago. I live in Highland Park.

A: Come to think of it, I have a friend who lives in Chicago.

In this case, so marks the beginning of a new topic in the conversation whereas well shows a slight change in the topic of the conversation (and not the expected “yes” answer). Finally, the phrase come to think of it signals that the speaker has just realised something which is connected to the previous statement.

These english expressions and vocacbulary are often hard to find in dictionaries, so it is important to be on the lookout for them. For instance:

As I was saying, I haven’t seen her for years --> Taking the conversation back to an earlier point.

Talking of outstanding students, whatever happened to Jane? --> Starting a new topic, but linking it to the one that’s being discussed.

If you ask me, she’s heading for trouble --> Giving a personal opinion, even though it might no-one has asked for it.

When it comes to art, this city has lots of very attractive options --> In the matter of art.

With one thing and another, I haven’t had time to reply her letter --> because of lots of different circumstances.

English exercises

It is sometimes difficult to catch markers due to its wide variety or the rapid pace of native speakers. However, it is a matter of practice until you get the hang of it. Do the following exercises to check your understanding; add the appropriate discourse marker to the following three dialogues:

Alsessandro: Are you a football fan?

Emily: ____I like it; I wouldn't say I’m a fan.

Alessandro: Oh, I see.

Emily: ____ of football fans, have you seen Julia?

Alessandro: _____ I met her at the café two days ago. She’s travelling to Marseilles next week.

Laurean: Emily Dickenson’s collection is amazing!

Bruce: She is one of the best _____ to poetry.


Joanne: Lauren seems exhausted.

John: ______ she needs a break from all this hassle.

Joanne _____ I haven’t had time to call her.



1. Well, talking of, come to think of it

2. When it comes to

3. If you ask me, with one thing and another



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