Filler Words in German

So like if you've like noticed by like how this first sentence is like going you can like see that I can like put like like anywhere in this sentence and it like still totally makes sense though, right?

That's what I mean by "filler words"...

I've asked this to a few people. I asked my German friend but she didn't know what filler words were, and it was hard to explain. I asked my German teacher and he told me "halt" was one and I've observed that to be one, but I don't really know how that it used and I don't see it that much.

I find "like" so easy to use in English to fill space when I'm talking so there isn't silence while I'm thinking. So are there any words like this in German that would be comparable to "like" or the other filler words we use in English?

January 20, 2015


There is a group of words called "modal/flavouring particles":

January 20, 2015

Neat! Very interesting link.

January 20, 2015


I know most of those, and I guess those are like "just" and stuff in English... But I was thinking more of like words that can be put anywhere and still make sense like there are in English.

I guess since I have never seen any for 4 years they must not exist. DX

January 20, 2015

As ever, Wikipedia has something to say on the matter:

In German, traditional filler words include äh /ɛː/, hm, so /zoː/, tja, and eigentlich ("actually"). So-called modal particles share some of the features of filler words, but they actually modify the sentence meaning.

Benny Lewis has an interesting take on fillers:

I’ll distract people from seeing that I’ve forgotten a word by replacing my “um….” with a dramatic pause, à la Jack Sparrow.

Rather than say “um…”, I may put my hand on the other person’s shoulder, look them in the eye (or stare pensively into the distance), take a deliberate deep breath… and then say the word. Since I have made these dramatic pauses a natural part of my basic conversations in a foreign language, during this time I am actually thinking hard about that word I have temporarily forgotten.

Even simple conversations suddenly become all the more intruiging with this addition.

For example, if I need a moment to recall the way to say a key word, I could say “I’m going to the…” [raise index finger analytically, take a step back, breath in deeply as if you are about to reveal the secret of life the universe and everything, and look out the window at the quest that awaits you] “… supermarket! Do you need anything?”

January 20, 2015

I'm going to guess that you're also from California? I'm not actually sure where else "like" is overused in speech but it's definitely not everywhere. Most people I meet from out of state are immediately appalled by the use of "like" sporadically throughout many sentences. Where we would say "like" they would just take a very brief pause, or use something like "ummm" (which has a German equivalent of ähm). If you're at the start of a sentence you can use "na..." or "also..." as a pause and I've been told a few times that this makes me seem more like a native speaker, although really I'm just trying to decide what to say. To the best of my knowledge there is no German equivalent that you can just litter throughout your sentences without adding any sort of value. This is probably for the best as English speakers who don't use "like" think we sound like fools.

January 20, 2015

Actually I think it is more of a teenager/young adult thing. I went to high school in Chicago and I distinctly remember a teacher who would say, in response to something like "I'm, like, late", "Well if you're just LIKE late, then I guess you aren't really late!"

So if a teacher in the midwest had a set comeback years ago, I think it goes farther than California. And I live in California now and would not say that many people over 25 fill their sentences with "like."

January 20, 2015

I am from California and I don't use "like" in that way at all, nor do many others, but I have heard a few people who do.

January 20, 2015

I'm mostly just exaggerating to make a point.

January 20, 2015

On the wikipedia page on fillers it lists some in other languages. For German it says

  • In German, traditional filler words include äh /ɛː/, hm, so /zoː/, tja, and eigentlich ("actually"). So-called modal particles share some of the features of filler words, but they actually modify the sentence meaning.

Also this stackexchange thread. Did you actually search this at any point? :P

January 20, 2015

Ich habe eigentlich ja keine Ahnung von .... nun, ähh ... Füllworten, welche ja nur so dazu dienen den Satz halt ziemlich zu strecken

January 20, 2015

"Halt" is actually similar used like "like". Also, wenn man halt so deinen ersten Satz halt übersetzen würde... Others would be eben, auch, durchaus, nun. But most have to fit the context slightly, so it's hard to just list them. (Example: "Nun, die müssen eben halt auch durchaus passen." :D )

I looked it up and there is an wikipedia site with german Füllwörter! Who knew?

January 20, 2015

Filler words that are actually words, I (as a native German) would say, are “also”, “so” and “halt”, perhaps “irgendwie” and “eigentlich”, too. And the English “er”, “um” or “erm” would be “äh” or “ähm”

January 21, 2015

Die armen Modalpartikeln werden immer als Füllwörter verunglimpft. ;-) Dabei kommen sie sogar bei Kafka vor, wo man kein Wort zu viel erwartet, besonders kein Füllwort.

January 22, 2015

Hi, there are some "filler words" in German. Most of the time Germans use "ähhh" or "ähhhm". They do not have a meaning and sound really stupid (thats how I fill silent moments while talking). There are also some words only used in some regions of Germany (e.g. fei in Bavaria). I would never use "halt" as often as you used "like" it in you sentence above. When I think about it...I never use it at all as a "filler word". You will find the "filler words" only in real conversations never written down, I think.
I hope that helped you. I can't think of more filler words at the moment, but if I find one I will let you know. Viel Erfolg und Spaß weiterhin!

January 20, 2015

The problem with that is that your English no longer makes sense.

I think the term you're looking for is 'discourse markers'.

January 20, 2015

It does make sense though because I talk like that in real life and everyone can understand me lol.

January 20, 2015
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