Em, eh, um…
Interjection sounds aren’t even really words but they are full of meaning! The English language is full of them. In some cases, if you make the wrong interjection sound, it can give completely the wrong meaning.
Interjection sounds can be used as a space filler or a kind of pause while speaking, like in the three examples in the title above, or as a way to express surprise, (dis)agreement, happiness, sympathy… pretty much every emotion you can think of!
You might recognise some of the sounds in the picture; there are lots more!
Your Interjection Sounds
What sound – not a word or expression, just a sound – would you make in respond to these different situations?
1. You’re looking at a menu trying to decide what to order in a restaurant.
2. You’re on the phone listening to the other person is talking – you want to make a sound to show them that you are still there and still listening.
3. Someone tells you that they’ve failed (or passed) and important exam.
4. You knock over a glass of water.
5. You bang your toe against a chair.
Some of the sounds you make might be similar to a native English speaker or they might be completely different. It all depends on your own culture and original language.
In English, we might make some combination of these sounds:
2. Aha, aha
3. Ahh tsk / Yah!
Interjection Sounds in English
Listen to the audio of sixteen different interjection sounds. Could you match the to sounds the correct explanations?
*The answers are below.
Irish Interjection Sounds
Irish people even have a few unique interjection sounds of their own. Here are four examples:
Are there any interjection sounds that are really typical of your country?
Have you heard these interjection sounds before? Do you use them when you speak in English?
Do you think cross-cultural relationships work well? How do you think being in a relationship with an Irish person would be?