When you are just getting began to learn English, your main consideration is to make yourself understood. Of course, it’s nice to use phrases like please, thank you, and excuse me, but people will excuse you if you leave them out… But will they?
The truth is, the English language is full of little comforts and formalities, and ignoring them can make you come across as disrespectful or unprofessional. If you have a little accent or it’s clear English is not your first language, English speakers will hopefully realize any disrespect is not intentional, but it’s always best to concentrate on learning the correct customs. Also, in some formal situations, such as job interviews, meetings with clients or colleagues, appointments with doctors, or simply when asking for help or information, it is necessary to make the best possible impression by speaking politely. To support you communicate more effectively, we have made this guide on how to be polite in English.
Polite Words and Sentences in English
The English language is full of polite words and expressions. When you begin speaking English, most people will recognize that any disrespect by you is not intentional. But it is necessary to learn correct English customs, so you can make the best probable impression when you meet new people.
You do not want to sound harsh in formal situations like job interviews or meetings with clients and colleagues. It is also essential to be polite when requesting information or asking for help.
In this article, you will learn ways to be polite in English. These tips will assist you to avoid sounding rude when making requests or asking for help.
Making A Request
In English, when we ask for something or ask someone to do something, we often use the modal verbs like could, might, should, and would to sound more courteous. They soften the request and create it sound less like you are ordering someone to do something. For example, a waiter in a restaurant will be more willing to treat you well if you say “I would like a cup of tea, please”, instead of saying the blunter “I want a cup of tea”, or, even worse, an imperative: “Give me a cup of tea”. You should evade giving commands and phrase your requests less directly, usually in the form of a question:
- Could you please open the window?
- Do you feel you could turn the music down a little, please?
- Would you mind telling me the time, please?
- Would you be so kind as to show me that book?
- I would appreciate it if you could…
- I would be most grateful if you could….
- When convenient for you, could you please…
Expressing ‘THANK YOU’
If your (polite) request has been met, don’t fail to say how grateful you are to the person for what they have done or said. Relying on the situation, you can use the following phrases:
- Thank you very much!
- That’s very kind of you.
- Thanks a lot! (note: this phrase is sometimes used sarcastically to mean the contrary. Make sure your tone is clear!)
- Thanks, I appreciate it.
- You are so helpful.
- Thank you for taking the risk to help me.
- Many thanks! (note: this is usually booked for written thanks and would sound a bit odd out loud)
If you have to communicate disagreement, it’s essential to show that you appreciate the person’s opinion and just happen to think differently. Try using the following expressions to soften your tone and express your opinion without the risk of insulting anyone:
- I see what you mean, but…
- I’m scared I don’t see it that way.
- I understand what you’re saying, but on the other hand…
- I respect your point, but…
- I’m not so sure about that.
- You could be right, but don’t ignore that…
Turning Down An Invitation
Saying no to people is not always easy, so the next time you have to refuse an invitation, these polite phrases will help you avoid hurting a person’s feelings:
- I would love to, but…
- That sounds great, but…
- I’m afraid I can’t. I…
- Thanks so much for asking me, but…
- Unfortunately, I can’t because…
Not Understanding/Asking To Repeat
If you did not hear what another person has said, you can say “Sorry”, “Pardon me”, or “Excuse me”, or else use the expressions below to ask them to repeat politely. See that it’s polite to blame yourself for not being able to hear, even if it was actually because they spoke too softly or other loud noises are covering them up!
- I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.
- Could you say that again, please?
- Would you mind repeating that?
Avoiding ‘FINGER-POINTING’ Statements
When dealing with a problem, coming across as rude can just make the problem more threatening. To sound more diplomatic and less assertive, focus on ‘I’ and ‘we’ instead of ‘you’, which can come across as accusatory, and use the passive voice:
Perhaps I am not making myself clear.
You’re not understanding me.
My favorite mug has been broken!
You broke my favorite mug!
It was agreed that you’d finish the task today.
You said you were going to finish the task today.
Polite English is especially crucial if you’re learning English for your job or career. You want to have good relationships with colleagues, make a positive impression on clients, and sound pleasant during interviews.
Now you know several ways to communicate things more politely in English! These phrases are useful in various situations. And you can join our English Learning Course to learn more precisely what to say in interviews, meetings, negotiations, and conversations with customers and co-workers and it focuses on the complete learning process.