This tag is for questions regarding the polite use of words or phrases.

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17
votes
3answers
9k views

May you please explain this?

At a family dinner, my 18 year-old niece asked my sister, "May you please pass the salt?" My sister said that she was impressed with her daughter's politeness, but that that particular wording was ...
-3
votes
1answer
96 views

Using “tell me” word on callI [closed]

I usually use the "tell me" on calls. For example when I pick up call I like to answer in this way: "Yes John, tell me" Is it a good practice to talk on call in this way?
4
votes
5answers
15k views

“Would” vs. “Will”

Which of the following sentences is correct and why? Please note that I "will" be working on another script this month. Please note that I "would" be working on another script this month. I should ...
1
vote
4answers
658 views

Is “How do you … ?” a polite question to ask the right way to do things? [closed]

Sometimes I feel uncomfortable to say "How do you spell xxx ?". It sounds like asking his or her own way of spelling a word implicating that I am not necessarily expecting the correct answer. Is "How ...
3
votes
4answers
662 views

Is it customary to call the former President George W. Bush “W.”, and Mrs. Bush “Bar”, in public?

Maureen Dowd deals with the comments of the former first lady, Barbara Bush in NBC’s the Today Show in her article titled ‘Silver Fox’s pink slip’ in New York Times (April 27): “Asked on the ...
0
votes
0answers
49 views

Which form of address in motivation letter? [duplicate]

I am writing a motivation letter for a university in London, and I wanted to know which form of address is common? Dear Sir or Madam To whom it may concern Thanks in advance.
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Telling someone that they are rude [closed]

I happened to tell a co-worker today "I'm sorry to say this, but I think you are being rude by asking me to do XYZ despite me telling you repeatedly that I'm not going to be able to do it". I ...
1
vote
6answers
2k views

Polite/professional alternative to 'It turns out'

I have been tasked with coming up with a nicer phrase to use than 'It turns out'. It is to be used in situations like the below: 'It turns out' that we cannot... 'It turns out' that we ...
-1
votes
1answer
2k views

Is this a polite way to ask questions? [closed]

I want to send questions to someone, I want to ask you if this way is polite and if there are better ways: I want to ask you questions, your answers would be appreciated I want to ask you ...
4
votes
0answers
18k views

Is 'friendly reminder' a positive word? What is an alternative with a friendly undertone? [closed]

I send reminders to my customers all the time. And, I hesitate to use the word 'friendly reminder'. I interpret it as a soft reminders before aggressive reminders. It brings up an image of a thug ...
2
votes
3answers
414 views

What is a polite way to call something a conspiracy theory?

"Conspiracy" has acquired a negative connotation. [Edit: As pointed out in the comments, it has always had a negative connotation.] If you tell or even insinuate to someone that what they are saying ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

Could I address someone by first name in business emails if he/she addresses me by first name?

I am really not sure about when it is appropriate to use someone's first name in business emails. If someone addresses me by my first name, but signs his email officially — full name, plus title, ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Is “pal” too informal when the other person is much older than me? [closed]

I have an online friend (here on StackExchange) and I happen to know that he is significantly "more experienced", he's a professor while I'm a student, and his contribution here is larger than mine. ...
0
votes
1answer
510 views

What should I say to people when I am passing them by?

I am talking about situations when you want to greet someone, without stopping to talk to them. In Russian, people usually say "добрый день" which means "hello." This is a greeting, not a valediction. ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

British term for 'washroom'? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Washroom”, “restroom”, “bathroom”, “lavatory”, “toilet” or “toilet room” What is the British equivalent of the American 'washroom'? (Besides 'loo', of course, as it is ...
1
vote
3answers
5k views

“You got it” vs. “I got it”

When I watch TV drams or movies, I sometimes come across the expressions “I got it” and “You got it” meaning “I will do as you ask”. I am wondering if there is any semantic or pragmatic differences ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Should personal pronouns always be placed at the end of a list? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “My friends and I” vs. “My friends and me” vs. “Me and my friends” Is naming the first person last proper grammar or just proper manners? “Julio and I” vs “I and Julio” ...
3
votes
4answers
8k views

“May I know your good name?” [closed]

"May I know your good name” is a typically Indian way of honouring another person by asking their name using an adjective like sweet, good, beautiful, et cetera. Of course there won’t ever be any bad ...
3
votes
5answers
77k views

Is it correct to say “I kindly request you to…”?

Isn't kindness already implied when you say "I request you to..."? When I say "I humbly request you to...", the word humbly helps me to label the state of my behavior during the request. On the ...
1
vote
2answers
634 views

Can I ask a practical question like this “how am I supposed to know something”

Lets say I am working on a project with 2 other people and there is some information that I need to work, so Can I ask like this: Can you please tell me "How am I supposed to run this script?". ...
6
votes
6answers
4k views

What do students call their teacher in class? [closed]

Well, years ago I was an English teacher in an English Teaching Institute. In the country I live, students call their teachers by saying "Mr. Teacher" or "Teacher" (literally translated) in schools. ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the formal way of saying “You have got something wrong”?

Let's say that I am working with my manager; he made some mistake which I have identified, and I want to point that out to him. So is there any polite way of saying "You have got it wrong."? (By the ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there any reason why English doesn’t add respectful words in every sentence? [closed]

My mother tongue, Korean, and its neighbor Japanese have postpositions for expressing honoring the opposite in each sentence when we say to seniors or strangers if these are younger than the speaker. ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

Is using the last name of a person without a title an accepted way of addressing?

I always heard people use Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms before people's names and that is how, I thought, it was done until I watched one of those Harry Potter films in which Malfoy (Sr) addresses Albus Dumbledore ...
1
vote
2answers
281 views

Present continuous form for a polite question?

Should we use use the present continuous form "would you mind if" to ask a polite question?
1
vote
2answers
9k views

polite way to ask someone to be patient? [closed]

I have seen the following line in mail replies from customer care executives - Thanks for your patience They write this when they are not yet ready with a desired solution. They write in the ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the courteous alternative of “Do you understand what I say?”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Does it make sense?” or “Do you understand me?”? "Do you get me?", "Do you get my point?", etc? What is the courteous alternative of "Do you understand what I say?"?
5
votes
1answer
821 views

How do words become derogatory or politically incorrect?

I know how words can become racist but I'm not sure how a word becomes derogatory or politically incorrect. If seems as though once one does, a new term is created to replace it that is not derogatory ...
5
votes
4answers
858 views

Bless your heart

Is "bless your heart" something only used by old women in the South (all I've ever heard)? Or is it ever appropriate for a man to use it without seeming unmanly? Does the term always have ...
7
votes
9answers
2k views

Is saying “who cares” impolite or rude?

Two people are talking about what tasks should be finished on time, and what tasks should be put off until later. The conversation was like below: A: I don't think those tasks are important. We ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Dear Dr. vs Hi vs none in E-mail communication [closed]

I am in contact with the my doctor by email. We exchange about 3 messages per week, today we exchanged 2 messages. Now I have a situation where I think it is a bit silly to write each time Dear Dr. ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Condolence message: “I was sorry” vs. “I am sorry”

What is the difference in nuance between the following statements? Which would be more appropriate for a letter of condolence? I was sorry to hear that your mother has passed away. I am sorry ...
2
votes
4answers
5k views

Meaning of various valedictions or closing expressions

Related to, but I believe distinct from, the following questions: What does the "yours" in "yours sincerely" mean? What are some expressions that can be used to end an email? ...
12
votes
5answers
49k views

Popular alternatives to “thank you”

The context for my question might be a bit strange. I have stuttering and therefore I have some difficulties pronouncing some words starting with particular phonetics. And I've found that if a ...
2
votes
2answers
18k views

Is it wrong to say “I hope this does not inconvenience you in any way”? [closed]

I recently had a dilemma regarding this. While the above sentence sounds okay to my ears, "I hope this does not cause any inconvenience to you" sounds more grammatically correct. Which one is correct? ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

'Sorry, have you got the time, please?'

In this programme from BBC sorry is used in addition to excuse me to get one's attention: Sorry, have you got the time (please)? So I am wondering: 1) Is sorry common for a native speaker to ...
3
votes
7answers
24k views

Is the expression “see you when I see you” impolite?

Once, I have received feedback that using "see you when I see you" is not very polite. Do you have the same opinion? What other expression should I use in case I have no clue when I will see the ...
3
votes
3answers
368 views

I am afraid I look servile when I say “please” [closed]

In Korea, when I say "please", others think that I am servile. In English, do I look servile when I use "please" in conversation? I want to know the intensity of the word "please" in servility.
2
votes
4answers
33k views

How to ask in a polite way

I am an international student in the U.S.A. I am writing an email and I am stuck on one sentence. I would like to say: "Do you know when I can get the flyers?" I would like to make the sentence more ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a word to describe female between 'girl' and 'woman'?

I've been trying to find a word that describes someone that's older than a 'girl' but not yet a 'woman'. It seems the connotation of girl is an immature female that's still growing up. Whereas a woman ...
2
votes
2answers
525 views

How can I politely tell a customer that we only provide e-mail support? [closed]

I'm running an online e-commerce site but use only e-mails for customer service to cut the expense. When a customer asks me by e-mail if he/she can call me for some questions, how can I politely ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

What does “I'm sure you understand” mean? Is it rude?

This expression seems to be used even when the speaker does not expect the other person to agree with them. What would the intention of the speaker be? Is the expression considered rude?
2
votes
1answer
856 views

Is it rude to say “how did you end up here”? [closed]

Is it rude to say, "how did you end up here?" to a teacher? I said it to my English teacher, and then thought, "damn, I don't know if I'm supposed to phrase it that way or not." So, is it?
3
votes
7answers
10k views

Polite phrase to ask for details [closed]

Usually, I send to a client "Cover Letter" with phrase "May I get the details?", if I need to get more information about his project. Suddenly, I have discovered that it is not very polite. And now I ...
1
vote
3answers
619 views

“thanks to (command)”

A friend who works in business says that she has been hearing a lot of polite commands worded as e.g. "thanks to ask any questions at the end of the presentation" (she has also seen this written a few ...
8
votes
3answers
20k views

Is “I'm screwed” a rude expression?

Is "I'm screwed" a rude expression, or can it be used when someone tries to say they made a mistake? I overheard it from someone who seemed to have failed at his task.
0
votes
1answer
4k views

Etiquette of using the wrong sign-off in a formal letter? [closed]

I just sent a formal business correspondence to a company via email. The letter starts with "To Whom It May Concern", but I rather clumsily used the wrong sign-off (Yours sincerely). How much of a ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Addressing a former office-holder by that office's title [closed]

When is it appropriate to use an "expired" honorific to address or refer to a person? In the U.S., former state governors are occasionally referred to as "Governor So-and-so", although they have not ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Should I use “the wife” or “my wife”?

I am not sure whether the best form when speaking of my spouse in everyday English is the wife or my wife. I commonly read the wife (or the girlfriend) in reference to the author's significant other, ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

“…and me” or “me and…” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Me and my wife” or “my wife and me” I keep seeing that it's just courtesy to put yourself last in a list of nouns. eg. "They went to the game ...