The Atlantic

Men Say 'Uh' and Women Say 'Um'

Our word-fumbles offer subtle clues about our personalities and intentions.
Source: Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

Um, guys. I have some information to share with you, and fair warning, it's, uh, going to make you scrutinize your speech for several days.

You know when you're searching for a word, or trying to say something more nicely than you actually mean it, or trying to make up your mind after you've already started speaking? Whether you reach for an "um" or an "uh" in those situations might depend on whether you're male or female.

Our verbal pauses actually speak volumes: "Like," as eighth-grade English teachers will tell you, makes the speaker sound, even a difference as subtle as the one between "um" and "uh" provides clues about the speaker's gender, language skills, and even life experience.

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