Have you ever been in one of those mega cringe moments when you have said something and just wished that there was an undo button for the spoken word?
I know I certainly have! Only this week I found myself using the word ‘though’ to back track and minimise the impact of what I had just said. To be honest I’m not sure I really got away with it but they smiled and didn’t confront me with it, so at least I didn’t have to face the music. I’m going to show you how to use this clever tactic to dig yourself out of trouble in an English speaking situation.
The word ‘though’, gets people in a real muddle because it isn’t always in the same place within a sentence, knocking people off balance, which of course is not very helpful at all. Let me give you an example.
The coding is a bit of a mess. I guess the programmers only started on Monday though.
Here the word ‘though’ is at the end of the sentence, because it is being used as part of a supporting (reputation saving) argument is a bit of an after thought or softener to take the ‘pinch’ out of the observation. Let me clarify…
The regular use of though is as a conjunction introducing a contrasting statement, it’s a more casual way of speaking and hence a less ‘in your face’ alternative to although and even though. Check out these examples.
- Even though the deadline was looming, she was still checking her facebook account every two minutes.
- Although she was very interested in the project, she had no intention of taking over the project management of it if she couldn’t work from home at least one day a week.
- We could try to warn the client that we are running late, though they might try to cancel again.
But in the blue example given earlier (about the programmers only having started on Monday), “though” is used as an adverb as a far less formal equivalent of however. We use though and however when we want to add a comment that seems to contradict what has already been said. Though used at the end of the sentence in this way, tends to indicate an afterthought. Compare the following:
- I felt that the interview had gone really well, I really thought I would get the job. However, it was not to be.
- The status report really is unfortunately not very good. However, I can assure you that we’ll hit the deadline.
- I’m sorry, I would love to join for lunch but I have a meeting in 20 minutes. I’ll have a coffee, though.
- What a great course, not as dull as they can be. It’s a bit stuffy in here though, isn’t it?
So if you have said something you ought not to have, then think fast and use ‘though’ as an adverb to tone it down, there’s still a chance to save your butt if you add a supporting clause at the end of the sentence or statement. So to dig yourself out of a hole, use an adverb, here are some more examples.
THOUGH THERE ARE PROBABLY ALL KINDS OF CLIENT SIDE ISSUES TO DEAL WITH
THOUGH CLEARLY THEY ARE DOING A GREAT JOB UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES
THOUGH HAVING MORE TIME/BUDGET/RESOURCES WOULD HELP
THOUGH IT IS EASY TO CRITISISE WITHOUT SEEING THE BIGGER PICTURE
Great if the boss or your client walks in mid sentence too! WINK
These are known as subordinating conjunctions. We use as if or as though when we want to justify ourselves or provide an explanation for something which may not be correct, true or accurate:
- They looked at me as if/as though I has a screw loose. (mad/crazy)
- Take an big notebook. It sounds as if/as though (NAME OF CLIENT) have plenty of suggestions.
- I can’t understand why he’s so keen on leading the project. It’s not as if /as though he’s got great people skills or anything, why doesn’t he just stick to what he is good at.
In spoken informal English, particularly American English, you sometimes will hear like as a subsitute for as if and as though: A Brit like me cringes at what is perceived as being bad grammar but it is important to be able to decipher different uses of though regardless of who is speaking.
- She looked at me like I was crazy.
- It looks like it’s gonna be a late one tonight.
HOW TO GET IT RIGHT
Strictly speaking, like, meaning similar to, is a preposition which can only be followed by a pronoun, noun or noun phrase. So, if you want to be grammatically correct, make sure you use like in this way:
- Like all projects, testing was left right to the last minute or neglected all together.
- Like you, she works from home twice a week.
- On the phone you sound just like you come from the UK. In fact, today I thought it was Jenny Pierson on the phone.
Watching what you say in the first place is of course the clever approach and one that most successful people manage with elegance. I guess it’s just not my style to be a yes girl, what about you?