Transitions 8 Monitoring yourself and others while discussing abstract topics

Young crazy man worried
I'm not sure if that came out right.

This lesson will focus on confirming that you are correct and that the listener understands you. We will work on discussing abstract topics. 


This lesson will teach you how to monitor yourself and the person with whom you are speaking. This is important even in your native language, and it's more important in a second language. You need to monitor yourself so if you make a mistake with grammar, nuance or meaning, you can correct it right away.

Warm Up: 

Think about the types of questions you have trouble answering. Here are some common ones: 

  • Personal questions, especially ones like, "What's your best job skill?"
  • Abstract questions like, "What is human nature?" 
  • Topics that you are very good at talking about in your native language, but lack the vocabulary to do so in English. For instance, sports, movies, and comedy. 
  • Topics that are big ideas and you have never thought about them before, like "What do you think about wind power?" 

Please consider each transition phrase. Your instructor has an example and a question regarding each one. Remember the goal is to smoothly use the transition phrase, not to give a long answer.  

  1. I’m not sure if I’m able to put this right... — I may make a mistake in nuance in what I'm going to say. 
  2. What I meant to say is... — I made a mistake in meaning or nuance, so let me correct it. 
  3. This is quite complex/a bit complex... — Used to introduce a complex topic, it prepares the listener to pay close attention. 
  4. Do you have any questions (at this point/so far)?  — Formal, used in a presentation to check for questions.
  5. Do you follow me? [formal, from a higher position]/Are you with me? [spoken English, casual and friendly] — Used to check understanding through a complex set of directions or logic.

  6. Let me know if there's anything I need to reiterate/go over again. — Used at the beginning, middle or end of a complex line of thought.


Now, try using the monitoring phrases to answer some questions your instructor will ask you.