So what's the problem with "Well, actually..." ?

I know originally it was used to make fun of mansplainers who would rebut women with that tired old phrase. But the problem is that now I’m seeing it used in response to actual discourse and used in ways where it’s not actually talking down or derailing the conversation.

Seems weird for something that was specifically used to target men who tried passively-aggressively insult women is now just being used for basically any conversation.

Well, I feel I must share that the actual problem is when people actually say actually all the actual time. If I don’t say “actually”, does that imply that I am being less than truthful? Does saying it all the time add any real clarity?


I have no idea what this thread is about or what problem it is referencing.

I invite the OP to offer more context and detail.

Statements that start with “Well, actually” are often of minimal importance while being ubiquitous to the point of annoyance. I’ve only known people who do creative work and get lots of comments to care, though. And then they just make fun of them by having a character named Actua Lee say annoying, nerdy things that aren’t relevant.

Generally speaking, it’s the mating call of The Annoying Shit.

Just replace the words “Well, actually…” with “You’re wrong. Here’s why:”

I can’t imagine it being used without talking down or derailing the conversation.

Saying it all the time doesn’t do any good.

But in this case it means that what the other person has just said is NOT actual.

It’s colloquial in British English with none of the connotations claimed here, it’s just meaningless filler when you’re adding something to a conversation.

I think it may depend on tone and context in the US, i.e. I think it can sometimes be what you describe over here too.

And in the UK if the words are spoken with a certain emphasis, it can mean something more patronizing. But in general, “actually” is a much more common filler in the UK than in the US.

The problem being that the people who seem to hate “Well actually” are the same people who would respond with “You’re wrong. Here’s why”

I was inspired by this Cracked article/ which says…

Or maybe they don’t. They probably say and do many things of exactly the same nature, and don’t even realize it. They’ve just fixated on this one, because it’s so easy to spot.

Many things that people say–things the just about everyone says, unless they’re autistic–are used to facilitate conversational discourse. They aren’t “filler.” They are just ways to convey stance, affect, etc. without coming across as a total asshole. The people who claim to speak in purely referential and propositional language are just fooling themselves. They, too, use language in this way, when nobody’s looking. Utterances such as thanks, uh huh, okay, etc. are not “filler.” Pragmatically they function in non-propositional ways, but they serve a purpose, such as communicating affect, showing that you’re paying attention, etc.

This isn’t to say that “mansplaining” isn’t real. That’s an entirely different issue.

This would not be true if the other person has said something factually wrong that is important to the conversation. This frequently happens in business meetings, in my (now possibly out-of-date) experience. So in these cases it is not derailing the conversation.

I was more likely to say something like “Um, I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s quite right.” It serves the same purpose but is possibly less abrasive.

I agree with Guizot that not every case of a man correcting an error or explaining something is “mansplaining.”

“Mansplaining” is perhaps really a sub-category of “teaching your grandmother to suck eggs” - the inexperienced and uninformed person inappropriately takes on the role of instructor.

“Well, actually” is often pretty passive aggressive. It is establishing that what the person is about to say is established fact when often what the person is about to say is just his opinion.

OK: “Well, actually, Ankara is the capital of Turkey, not Istanbul.”

Not OK: “Well, actually, Lancelot Link has had more influence on the spy genre than James Bond.”

It’s a matter of connotation. “Well, Actually…” has become largely poisoned by association.

It’s like… Well, y’know how “kek” now seems to be a pretty clear indicator that the person speaking is a shitlord? That’s not because “kek” is inherently a problem, it’s because the term was appropriated by shitlord culture, and now anyone who uses it is almost certainly either oblivious or a shitlord.

“Well, actually” is a lot like that. Most people who use it are obnoxious twits.

LOL never even heard the word kek. Is it a Britishism? What’s it mean?

… don’t hear “shitlord” much either, but that one I can figure out myself. I rather quite like it!

Is this some off branch of the defunct Well Basically Club?

I can figure out easily enough that it’s derogatory, but there’s a degree of specificity to it that I’m not privy to. There are clearly situations when someone’s behaving in an assholic manner where calling them a ‘shitlord’ wouldn’t even make sense.

And yeah, wtf is ‘kek’?