Connectors Starter Pack

A Springboard

When I teach people about conversational intimacy, I give them a “starter pack” of about 100 connectors, and I present them here.

There is nothing magical about these 100 or so connectors. They are just a springboard to get people going.

As soon as possible you should be throwing out connectors from the starter pack that you don’t find useful and adding connectors you come across in real-life.

I like to break the connectors into ten groups, based on the type of thing they do in a conversation:

Opening Connectors

Opening connectors are used when somebody has just asked a question, and you want to start answering it.

thank you heartily

děkuji srdečně

that is a good question

to je dobrá otázka

that is such a difficult question

to je taková těžká otázka

once upon a time, long ago

kdysi, dávno

When you are asked a question, it can put you on the spot. Your mind can go blank, and soon you don't know how to even start answering.

Opening connectors are really useful for getting the first few words out of your mouth (“breaking the silence”) while you settle down to give the real answer to the question.

Imagine you are asked where you are from, and your brain is racing to first fully comprehend the question and second to come up with an answer.

You can get some breathing space by starting out with:

“To je dobrá otázka ...” then once the momentum is going your brain relaxes and it is much easier to keep going and say “… (I am from England) jsem z Anglie”

Filler Connectors

Filler connectors are throw-away phrases you can insert when you need a little more thinking time.

They give the illusion of deep pondering, or sharing something personal, which is exactly what you want while you think of what you are going to say next:

understandably

pochopitelně

frankly speaking

upřímě řečeno

between you and me

mezi námi řečeno

anyway

nicméně

well then

nuže tedy

well, as a matter of fact

no, ve skutečnosti

how can I put it?

jak bych to řekl?

I must say that

musím říct, že

firstly

za prvé

secondly

za druhé

I would like you to know that

rád bych, abyste věděl, že

I am afraid that

obávám se, že

now and then it seems to me that

chvilemi se mi zdá, že

after all

přece jenom

as far as I am concerned

co se mě týče

more and more

čím dál víc

actually

vlastně

all joking aside

konec srandy

now seriously

teď vážně

As an example, somebody asks:

“(Where) Kde (do you live) bydlíte?”

If your brain panics, or you feel that just saying a place name is too abrupt, you can throw some filler in there before the answer:

“(Between you and me) Mezi námi řečeno (I live in Prague) bydlím v Praze

Apologising Connectors

When you make a mistake, or feel embarrassed, or you are about to put somebody in a slightly uncomfortable situation, it is all too easy to blush, panic, and revert to your own language.

Instead, if you have rehearsed the Apologising Connectors until they become part of you, you will soon find that your automatic reaction to embarrassment is to use one of them to defuse the tension.

They will get you over the embarrassment hurdle so you can carry on.

don't be upset, but

nezlobte se, ale

it was a slip of the tongue

to mi uklouzlo

I said it by mistake

řekl jsem to omylem

I am sorry that

omlouvám se, že

Qualifying Connectors

Czechs tend to not be overly impressed with show-offs, so a bit of humility gets you a long way.

To soften a statement, instead of just saying something as if it is a fact, it can help to wrap it up with a qualifying connector.

There are loads of these, and you need to keep varying them throughout a conversation so you don’t sound like a robot stuck on replay.

to tell the truth

abych pravdu řekl

I presume that

já se domnívám, že

I hope that

doufám že

in my opinion

podle mého názoru

if that is true

jestli je to pravda

I don't know exactly

já nevím přesně

I would like to think that

chtěl bych myslet že

the way I see it is that

vidím to tak, že

as you may know

jak asi víte

I don't have a big interest in that

nemám velký zájem o to

if I understand correctly

rozumím-li dobře

as you already know

jak už víte

that isn't such a big problem

to není takový velký problém

that is a matter of opinion

to je věc názoru

as far as I know

pokud vím

I have the impression that

mám dojem, že

it is usually true that

obvykle platí, že

you never know, but

nikdy nevíte, ale

I haven't thought about it before, but

nikdy dřív jsem na to nemyslel, ale

if I am not mistaken

pokud se nemýlím

I am not certain whether

nejsem si jistý, zda

like every other man

jako každý druhý muž

I have my own opinion on it, but

mám svůj vlastní názor na to, ale

I am not such an expert, but

nejsem takový odborník, ale

So, for example, if somebody asks if you like Prague, instead of just blurting out “yes” or “it is a beautiful town”, you can increase you fluency by using a qualifying connector in front:

“(In my opinion) Podle mého názoru ... (Prague is a beautiful city) Praha je krásné město

Agreeing and Disagreeing Connectors

Simply saying “yes” or “no” all the time makes a conversation sound like an interrogation session.

Add a bit more warmth to the conversation by using Agreeing and Disagreeing Connectors.

one hundred percent

na sto procent

without question

bez debat

exactly right

přesně tak

most certainly

zcela určitě

without doubt

bezpochyby

in no case

v žádném případě

that isn't true at all

to vůbec není pravda

that is an exaggeration

je to přehnané

in principle that is true, but

v zásadě je to pravda, ale

admittedly that is true, but

to je sice pravda, ale

that's one way to say it

i tak by se to dalo říct

only up to a certain point

jen do určité míry

certainly, why not?

určitě, proč ne?

I agree

souhlasím

As you gain confidence, you will find yourself using more than one at a time.

Somebody will ask if you agree with something, and instead of just saying yes, you will find yourself saying something like:

“(A hundred percent) Na sto procent … (without question) bez debat … (I agree) souhlasím

Of course, you can mix in other kinds of connectors too. For example, a bit of filler:

“(I must say that) Musím říct, že ... (a hundred percent) na sto procent … (without question) bez debat … (I agree) souhlasím

Elaborating Connectors

Often, when we are put on the spot with a question, we blurt out the simplest answer we can think of:

“Where are you from?”

“England”.

Whenever I have done that, I feel a bit relieved that I at least said something, but at the same time a bit awkward that our answer was so short, and disappointed in myself since I know I could have said more.

In other words, it is too easy to fall back onto talking below your real level of fluency.

We want to get over that.

You can rescue these situations by throwing in some well-rehearsed elaborating connectors.

They bridge from a simple blurted-out answer to something more in-depth that you now feel relaxed enough to say and proud to have said.

to be more precise

přesněji řečeno

and what's more

a co víc

while I am already talking about it

když už o tom mluvím

I would like to emphasise that

rád bych zdůraznil, že

should I explain in greater detail?

měl bych vysvětlit podrobněji?

allow me to say it another way

dovolte, abych to řekl jinak

that is to say

totiž

and more specifically

a sice

nevertheless

přesto

even though

I když

that sounds like

to zní jako

and that is why

a proto

in other words

jinými slovy

to say it another way

abych řekl jinak

So now, a question like: “(Where are you from) Odkud jste?”

Lets you blurt out a quick and easy reply and follow it up with an elaborating connector while you think of a more detailed answer:

“(I am from England) Jsem z Anglie …. (and specifically) a sice … (from Oxford) z Oxfordu”

Quoting Connectors

One way to create intimacy in a conversation is to share things that somebody else told you. It can feel a bit like inviting somebody very briefly into your close circle of friends.

Here, then, are a few useful connectors for quoting something:

she said something like

říkala něco ve smyslu, že

my wife pointed out that

moje manželka poukázala na to, že

recently, I heard that

nedávno jsem slyšel, že

my better half said

moje lepší polovička řekla, že

Of course, you may have to change these around a bit if you don’t have a wife.

And, as usual, you can combine these with other connectors to make the sentence keep flowing.

Switching Connectors

When you are really lost for words, a good technique is to give a very brief answer to the current question, and then switch smoothly to a completely different topic where you feel on safer ground.

now it occurs to me that

teď mi napadá, že

by the way

mimochodem

I have an interesting story about it

mám na tom zajímavý příběh

and besides that

a mimo to

oh, I nearly forgot

ach, málem jsem zapomněl

and one more thing

a ještě něco

on the other hand

zato

I remember trying to take this to the extreme one time, when asked about some music group I had never heard of.

I mumbled out that they weren’t my favourite group, and then used a switching connector to start talking about a movie I had just seen.

Since the woman I was talking to didn’t seem to be offended, I just kept going and practiced deliberately using switching connectors as much as I could.

We ended up chatting non-stop for an hour and a half!

Closing Connectors

When you have finished talking about something, you can just leave it to end there, or you can wrap it up with a closing connector.

To be honest, I find that I don’t use closing connectors often, but sometimes they feel just right.

that is all there is to say

tím že řečeno vše

that is all for now

to je pro zatím vše

to sum up

abych shrnul

and there is the problem

a v tom je ta potíž

I hope it is only a question of time

doufám, že je to jen otázka času

that remains to be seen

to se teprve pozná

Passing Connectors

Finally, a conversation isn’t a monologue – it is an exchange between several people.

Sometime it is useful and polite to “pass the baton” to somebody when the time comes.

can you tell me please

můžete mi prosím říct

would you be interested in us talking about something else?

měl byste zájem abychom mluvili o něčém jiném?

and what do you think?

a co myslíte vy?

 

 

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