Filled Pauses
Symbol <uh> <uhm> <hm> <hes>

The sound produced during spontaneous speech that represents a pause filled by a vocalization.

Description A filled pause, or filled pause, is an articulation by the speaker that may be encountered between utterances but is not to be mistaken for a lengthened sound [<L>] within a word.

A filled pause occurs most often when a speaker is thinking. It is a filled pause in that the speaker actually breaks off speech while continuing to articulate. However, the articulation is neither a word, nor part of a word.

Filled pauses include:

  • <uh> : vowel /e/ /a/ /u/ /i/ /er/ etc.
  • <uhm> : vowel + nasal /eem/, /aam/
  • <hm>: nasal /mmm/, /nnn/
  • <hes>: trash /pfff/, /tsss/

A filled pause is not a word, and therefore should not be treated as such. Punctuation cannot follow a filled pause; it always comes before. A filled pause, however, may stand alone as a turn of its own.


1. yes. <hes> yes .

2. noise here, <uh> a couhg, it seems <uhm> a cold.

3. but. <hm> I don't know if you want to ask to +/ea=/+ <uh> each person, each time

4. How far is the <uhm> next gas station


Be careful to note that if you can substitute the sound which you think might be a filled pause with something meaningful, such as an interjection - 'well,' or 'ah' among others - then the sound is NOT a filled pause.

ex: huh, what did you say ?

Special Cases

Japanese: Eight categories representing filled pauses may be used in Japanese transcriptions:

<e> <eeto> <ahm> <uh>


German: German transcriptions may also contain <"ah> <"ahm> instead of <uh> and <uhm>.