15 Phrases for Speaking Polite English

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When learning another language, it’s easy to make the mistake of being a little bit rude since you might not be aware of the phrases which sound polite and impolite to native speakers. You already know how to say “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me”, but here are 15 more ways to make your English sound more polite.

1. Don’t say “I want a hamburger”. Say “I’d like a hamburger” or “I’ll have a hamburger, please”. “I want” sounds like a demand as if you are commanding the other person to fulfill your desires. “I’d like” is a more polite and diplomatic phrase when ordering food and drinks. We often use” I’ll have”. “I’ll have a hamburger, please”.

2. Don’t say “Send me the report”. Say “Could you send me the report?” To maintain good relationships with coworkers, it’s best not to use imperatives that’s starting a sentence directly with the verb like “Reply to my email”, “Go to the bank”, “Finish this project”. Instead, make requests with questions starting with “Could you” and “Could you please”. This is more polite.

3. Don’t say “Go away” or “Leave me alone”. Instead, say “Could you give me a minute?” or “Sorry, I’m a bit busy right now”. If a colleague approaches you at a bad time and you want the person to leave, don’t say “Go away” or “Leave me alone”. The phrase “Could you give me a minute?” is for when you just need a few moments to finish up what you’re working on and then you’ll talk with the person. You can use the other phrase “Sorry, I’m a bit busy right now” when you’re in the middle of work. You can follow up with the phrase “Can we talk a little later?” and agree on a time when you’re both available.

4. Don’t say “Tell me when you’re available”. Instead, say “Let me know when you’re available”. “Let me know” is a nicer and more indirect way to say “tell me”. It’s a casual way to ask for some information. Alternatively you could simply ask the question “When are you available?”

5. Don’t say “You’re wrong”. Instead, say “I think you might be mistaken” or say “I’m afraid I disagree”. When pointing out someone’s mistake, it’s best to use a more indirect phrase, because “You’re wrong” is very direct and the other person might feel bad or get defensive. “I think you might be mistaken” is a more humble phrase allowing for the possibility that you might be wrong about the other person’s error. Finally if it’s a matter of opinion you can use the last phrase “I’m afraid I disagree”.

6. Don’t say “That’s a bad idea”. Instead, say “I’m not so sure that’s a good idea” or “I have a few concerns”. Instead of using strong and direct words like “bad” it’s more polite to say “I’m not so sure that’s a good idea”. Another option is to state your specific objections by pointing them out as concerns saying “I have a few concerns”.

7. Don’t say “Your work isn’t good”. Instead, say “I’m not quite satisfied with this work” or “To be honest this needs some improvement”. One of the hardest things to do is telling somebody that their work doesn’t meet the standards or expectations, but you can make it easier for the other person to accept by using a polite phrase like “I’m not quite satisfied with this work”. The phrase “To be honest…” is used when you are going to state an opinion that other people might not like very much.

8. Don’t say “I don’t like the colors in this design”. Instead, say “I’m not too fond of the colors in this design” or “I’d prefer to use different colors in this design”. When reviewing work avoid statements like “I don’t like…”, instead you can use a more indirect form like” I’m not too fond of…” or “I’m not a fan of…” Another option is to state what you want to see instead, by using the phrases “I’d prefer…” or “I’d rather….” Polite English is especially important if you’re learning English for your job or career, you want to have good relationships with coworkers, make a positive impression on clients and sound pleasant during interviews.

Source: Espresso English Channel on Youtube

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