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OK: and how to use it
Even if you have just started learning English, I’m pretty sure there is one word you already know – in fact, it’s the most recognised word in the world: “Ok”.
Going back to 1839 we see “Ok” being used for the first time as a playful abbreviation for “all correct”. Since then “Ok” has spread across the globe and found its way into all of our lives. Today “Ok” has become one of the most common expressions in the English language. Here is how you use it.
Watch this video to see how “ok” became the success that it is today:
HOW TO USE “Ok”
“Ok” can be used in several ways, here are some examples:
- To show pleasure: “A parking spot! Ok!”
- To give a neutral response: “How was the movie?” “It was… Ok.”
- To draw attention away from a topic: “Ok, here’s the next thing we need to do.”
Now let’s get down to the grammar – “Ok” can be used as an adjective, an adverb or as a discourse marker.
“Ok” AS AN ADJECTIVE
We often use “ok” as an adjective to say that something is not a problem, it’s ‘all right’:
A: “Thanks for helping me out.”
B: “That’s ok. No problem.”
A: “Sorry to keep you waiting.”
B: “It’s ok.”
We often use “ok” to talk about our health:
A: “How are you?”
B: “I’m ok, thanks for asking.”
We use “ok” to say that a situation or state is satisfactory, neither very good or very bad:
A: “What do you think of my plans?”
B: “They’re ok”
“Ok” AS AN ADVERB
“Ok” is used as an adverb in informal speech, meaning ‘all right’ or ‘neither well nor badly’:
Even though I had never slept in a tent, in a sleeping bag or had any experience canoeing, I did ok.
The Internet was down all morning, but it seems to be working ok now.
“Ok” AS A DISCOURSE MARKER
We use “ok” to show that we understand, accept, or agree with what someone is saying:
A: “I’ll see you at 5 in front of the library.”
B: “Ok. See you later.”
A: “Why don’t you get a lift with Nadia?”
B: “Oh, ok.”
Changing topic or closing a conversation
We often use “ok” to show that we are moving on to a new topic or phase of conversation. This is common in situations where we are giving instructions:
Teacher: “Ok, let’s get into groups of four now.”
“Ok, now let’s turn to page five.”
We also use “ok” to mark the end of a conversation:
“Right, ok, take care of yourself. Bye.”
We often use “ok?” to check understanding. We usually put it at the end of a sentence:
I know it’s difficult to talk … just nod or shake your head. Ok?
Tie it the opposite way … just like tying a shoelace really, ok?
To be honest, it doesn’t really matter – you can use “ok” or “okay” or “OK” and you’ll be ok! Just remember that it’s generally only used in informal language.