You babysit a couple's child in the afternoons. They usually pay you at the beginning of each month, but it's the 5th and they haven't paid you yet. You think they haven't paid because they just forgot, so you want to remind them. When you see them, you say:
Hey, I just wanted to remind you that, um, you haven't paid yet for this month?
This is a polite and gentle way to remind someone of something they were supposed to do. (To "remind" someone means to say something to help them remember.)
"I just wanted to (do something)" is a polite way to start any question when you need to ask but you don't feel that confident about it. For example, after you've made a few sentences of small talk you can ask someone:
I just wanted to see if you're free on Thursday night. I'm going to this art show with a few friends of mine.
People use "I just wanted to remind you that..." in business situations pretty often. It's more common in spoken English than in writing.
English speakers use the sound "um" when they don't know what to say next. Here's an example from a TV talk show:
Well, my daughter in this show is very strongly liberal, and she's a very — she's a — she went to, uh, um, Stanford Law School, and she graduated from Stanford with honors.
But people also use "um" when they're talking about a topic that is uncomfortable. Using "um" shows the listener that you're being careful about a topic that is very sensitive. So you would use "um" when you're talking seriously about:
- a death in someone's family
- a decision at work that you disagree with
By the way, you might hear or read somewhere that you shouldn't use "um". That's a rule that English speakers are taught in school, because some people think that using "um" too much makes you sound unprofessional. But almost everyone uses it from time to time, and it actually makes your English sound more natural.
The example at top is a statement, but it ends with a question mark. People sometimes use a questioning intonation at the end of a sentence when they're just stating something, but they want a response.
It also sounds softer and less angry to end a statement with a questioning sound.
You say "Hey" at the beginning of a sentence in casual English when you want to get someone's attention. For example:
It's common to say "Hey" before you ask someone a question, or when someone has done something that's wrong or unfair:
Use "hey" with people you know or are familiar with. When you're talking to people you don't know as well, "Excuse me" is more polite.
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