Archive for May 23, 2010

the difference between words: anyway, by the way, speaking of, and at any rate

anyway

Today I’d like to write about something that is confusing for many people: the difference between “anyway” and “by the way”. I’d also like to go over two other expressions which have similar functions, but which are a little different.

So, “anyway” is used when we want to change the subject completely, or when we want to bring back the original subject after being interrupted. For example:

A: …so that’s why I didn’t like that movie.

B: Oh I see. I won’t go see it then. Anyway, where do you think we should have dinner tonight?

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A: I really don’t think this is a good time to…

B: Excuse me. Could you tell me where the bathroom is?

A: It’s at the end of the hall. Anyway, as I was saying, I don’t think this is a good time to invest in gold.

The expression “by the way” is used when we suddenly remember something that we want to say to someone. For example:

I’m going to the supermarket after work today. Oh, by the way, Harry wants to know if you’re coming over for dinner this weekend.

I watched a really good show on TV last night. Oh, by the way, here’s the DVD you lent me last month. Thanks for letting me borrow it.

The expression “speaking of” is also used when we remember something we want to tell someone, but it is directly linked to something that someone has said before which reminds us of it. For example:

A: I’m really excited about seeing Mark’s new play.

B: Yes, I am too. Speaking of Mark, did you hear that he’s going to get married soon?

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A: Mary just moved into a new apartment!

B: Really? That’s fantastic! Speaking of new apartments, I’m also thinking about finding a new place. I’m tired of my old apartment.

The expression “at any rate” is used to give more details about something that we have mentioned already. For example:

A: I really want to go to Europe this summer.

B: But it’s really expensive. Can you afford it?

A: I’ve been saving my money. I don’t think it’ll be so bad. At any rate, I really want to go, and this will be my last chance before I start my new job.

So this is how we use these expressions. A few people have asked me to explain this, so I hope it is clear to everyone.

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