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How to use “you know”

Why is "you know" most commonly used in spoken English. Or to phrase it differently, why do native speakers use this expression a lot in spoken English? Is it a good way of speaking? Does it have to do anything with a particular country, culture, etc?

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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, waiwai933 Jun 19 '12 at 17:32

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

btw, "you know" is used as a filler in some other languages, too. What's your first language? – Alex B. Jun 19 '12 at 16:21
up vote 4 down vote accepted

In most cases it's a space-filler with no meaning at all other than "er..."; or it means "well you do know, just give me a few moments to think of what it's called..."

"Where are you going?"
"I'm going to the, you know, shopping mall."

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That is true. It is, like, an abused phrase if I've ever, like, seen one. ;) – shinyspoongod Jun 19 '12 at 15:32
@shinyspoongod I know, right? – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jun 19 '12 at 15:39
@cornbreadninja Shut up!!!! You are so, like, right. Innit? – Schroedingers Cat Jun 19 '12 at 15:41
We was talking at work and I was like, I wonder if I should mention like? And my friend was like, No, keep it simple. – Andrew Leach Jun 19 '12 at 15:52
I'd say this is frequently used to emphasize not exactly clear innuendos, metaphors, double-speak, hidden meanings etc. Like, in this example, it wouldn't be the shopping mall at all, but, you know, the "shopping mall". – SF. Jun 19 '12 at 15:52

It's a lazy/terse form of the expression, "do you know what I mean" or "do you know what I'm saying" which is not only informal, but is specifically used directly with the usually singular or small-group audience to make sure someone is following along in a conversation.

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"You know" is used to imply that what is being referred to is known to or understood by the listener, or as a gap-filler in conversation.

When in Rome, you know.

I was, you know, wondering if you had news for me.

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"You know" can be included in the so-called discourse particles, that is those linguistic units of spoken language which have no real meaning, their function being merely a pragmatic one. According to Wikipedia, they serve "to indicate the speaker's attitude, or to structure their relationship to other participants in a conversation."

As a personal note, I add that discourse particles, which are common in speech of every language in the world, may also reveal something about the mindset of a nation. E.g. English people are concerned about other people's understanding of what they say. Italians use "cioè," which means "that is," so they are perhaps more focused on finding a better way to say something or explaining their words.

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Arabic has ‘ya’nee’ – it means. – Barrie England Jun 19 '12 at 16:48

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