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Can I use word basically in an interview?

For example

I basically belong to X but I am working at Y from last 10 years.

Or can I use

I belong to X and I am working at Y from last 10 years.

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for the last ten years. –  Matt Эллен Sep 26 '12 at 12:20
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@CodeForFuture: If you don't want your command of English to let you down at the interview, you should be far more concerned about what you've written above after the word "but", which is ungrammatical and completely unnatural to a native speaker. Just forget about whether your use of "basically" might be considered "slangy" by some people, and change the "rider" to something like "but I have been working at Y for the last 10 years". –  FumbleFingers Sep 26 '12 at 12:34
    
@FumbleFingers Thanks for the comment.FYI I am not a native english speaker. And I must admit that I don't have a good english knowledge also. But I am here to improve my english speaking skills. –  CodeForFuture Sep 26 '12 at 12:37
    
@CodeForFuture: Haha - as my comment implies, it's really obvious you're not a native speaker! But as StoneyB says in his answer, you're certainly right to suspect some people might find this use of "basically" a bit irritating, like. Just as many people would find my use of "like" there irritating. Anyway - welcome to ELU, but I'd advise you to stick mainly to asking questions (and posting comments) rather than answering them, unless you're very sure of what you're saying. –  FumbleFingers Sep 26 '12 at 12:52
    
got u @FumbleFingers –  CodeForFuture Sep 26 '12 at 14:38
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Good question. It looks like you've picked up on the fact that "basically" has become a sort of generic synonym for many more specific terms and constructions—on the one hand, "formally", "officially", "technically", "according to the organization chart", even "really", and on the other, "simply", "in short", "fundamentally", "at bottom", "in the most general terms", and so forth.

It's probably OK to use "basically" this loosely in an oral interview, but in writing—in your resumé, for instance—it's better to describe your situation with greater precision:

I am formally employed as a Senior Developer in the X division, but for the last ten years I have worked with the cross-divisional Y team.

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The problem, and it’s a small one, with basically, essentially, and to a certain extent actually is that they are hedge words. They can convey a little undertone, one or more of:

  • I need a minute to think so I am adding a filler word (this can be taken by some people as a sign of lying)
  • I am going to tell you something other than what I wrote on my resume and then say that there's really no difference
  • I am going to wildly oversimplify something to make myself look better (I basically ran the entire operation and my boss just played solitaire all day)
  • I don't think you can understand the real situation so I’m going to tell you the simplified version (this is the part some people think is patronizing)

None of these are very nice. If I were to tell you to avoid it though, it would be mild advice. If I thought it was a verbal tic of yours, being added to every sentence whether it was needed or not, I would suggest backing off on it a bit. In your example you want to explain that there is a “it looks like this but in reality it’s more that” situation and basically wouldn't be wrong there. It wouldn’t be my first choice; I would probably avoid adjectives (especially ones that might be misinterpreted) and say “I worked for X and was assigned to Y” in that case.

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It’s better to say the second sentence as using the word basically can sometimes seem patronising/rude.

It isn’t the end of the world if you use the word basically but try to avoid it.

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I personally see nothing wrong with basically and disagree that it sounds patronising/rude.

I would, however, say

I basically belong to X but I have been working at Y for the last 10 years.

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Just curious; why the downvote? I am active on other S.E sites and extremely rarely downvote - and never without stating a reason. I have always thought that the system ought to reuire a comment in order to downvote (ymmv). In this case I am merely cusious as to why. –  Mawg Sep 27 '12 at 1:29
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