English phrases can be difficult to remember since the meaning of each individual word may not give any clue as to a phrase’s meaning.
You are watching: By the by vs by the way
In today’s Ask a Teacher, Inna from the Ukraine asks about two phrases. Here is her question:
Hello. Can you please explain the difference between “by the way” and “mind you” and how to use these phrases correctly? Thank you. – Inna, Ukraine
Hello, Inna, and thanks for your question.
I never thought of these two phrases as having anything in common, but your question gave me something to research! Here’s what I found: Both “mind you” and “by the way” are used to direct the listener’s attention to an added piece of information. But that is as far as their similarities go.
By the way
English speakers use “by the way” when we want to quickly ask or say something that is partly or totally unrelated to the subject of discussion.
For example, suppose you were talking to a friend about a city you visited, and how beautiful it was. Then, suddenly, you remember something unrelated – your future travel plans with your friend. You might say something like this:
The architecture was gorgeous. And, we visited the flower gardens and ancient temples. Oh, by the way, are we still going to London in November?
But, unlike with “by the way,” we do not use “mind you” to add a piece of unrelated information to what we just said.
We usually use “mind you” to show differences between two statements. It has a similar meaning to “however” or “but, just to let you know” or “on the other hand.” It helps us make clear to the listener that we don’t want our statement to be misunderstood.
For example, imagine that a teacher had received excellent online reviews from people who took her class. So, you decided to try it. But, you did not enjoy the class. You might say:
Her class wasn’t very good. Mind you, I think she’s a nice person.
It is similar to saying, “Her class wasn’t very good. But, just to let you know, I think she’s a nice person.”
You can also put “mind you” at the end of a sentence, like this:
I think she’s a nice person, mind you.
Note that “mind you” is not used very much in everyday American English.
And that’s Ask a Teacher.
I’m Alice Bryant.
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Words in This Story
phrase – n. a brief expression that is commonly used
clue – n. something that helps a person find something, understand something, or solve a mystery
architecture – n. a method or style of building
on the other hand – expression. used to introduce statements that describe two different or opposite ideas, people or other things
review – n. an act of carefully looking at or examining the quality or condition of something or someone