In speaking, we often use well at the start of what we say. Its main function is to show that we are thinking about the question that we have been asked:
How was your meeting?
Well, it’s difficult to say. I think they liked our presentation but I am not sure.
How long would it take to drive from Dundee to here?
Well, let me see. I’d say it would take at least three hours, if not more.
We can use well to show a slight change in topic, or when what we are about to say is not quite what is expected:
Have you found a house yet?
Well, we’ve stopped looking actually. Nadia’s company has offered her another contract and we’ve decided to stay in Edinburgh for another year.
Did you like that book?
Well, it was interesting, but war stories are not really my favourite.
We can use well when we want to change what we have said slightly, or say something in another way:
I’m not going on a hiking holiday. I hate walking. Well, I hate being out in the cold weather.
Fiona is feeling better. Well, she’s much better than she was. She’ll be back to work on Monday.
We can use well when we admit or acknowledge that something is correct or true:
It’ll take four hours to get to Glasgow.
It’ll take more than that. We’ll have to stop for a break somewhere.
Well, that’s true.
We can use well with a rising intonation as a type of question when we want someone to tell us something. In this case, it means tell me or tell us. Be careful when you use this, as it can sound very direct: