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

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7
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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 ...
2
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
1answer
1k 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
3answers
3k 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
39k 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
13k 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
971 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
17k 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
347 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
24k 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
1k 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
445 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
681 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?
2
votes
7answers
8k 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
537 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
14k 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
1k 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 ...
3
votes
6answers
2k views

Should one ever use the word “please” in an order or demand?

A police officer who pulls over a driver might ask to see his “license and registration, please.” Similarly, a border official might ask for a “passport, please.” However, in these situations, the ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it always appropriate to reciprocate when asked “How are you?” [closed]

This question is related to When someone asks how are you, are you supposed to answer, "Good," or "Fine," and ask back?. There, the answer by z7sg Ѫ claims it is sometimes appropriate not to ...
1
vote
2answers
755 views

How to suggest contrary solution politely?

Theoretical case: client suggests some non-optimal solution. How to offer another, better solution politely with indirect question? Is it ok to say "Don't you think doing it this way would be more ...
7
votes
3answers
8k views

“May I ask if…”

A question like: May I ask if you've seen it all? Can yield two answers: Yes, I've seen it all. Yes, you may ask. Can you avoid this (the may-answer), remaining a tad more polite than usual? ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Letter opening with name only--what does it convey?

I sometimes get emails (e.g. from professional contacts or people I don't know well) which simply start with FirstName, [ ... letter body ... ] They don't use "Dear FirstName," or "Hello ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

“would like you to” vs. “please”

I am writing an email, in which I would like to ask for something but I don't want to be very direct. I came up with the following two constructions: In addition, I will not be receiving my ...
4
votes
2answers
24k views

Is “received with thanks” stilted English?

I just got a receipt which said "Received with thanks the sum of ..." Thanks stands for gratitude, so this looks fine to me as far as grammar is concerned. But is this old-fashioned and/or stilted? ...
2
votes
1answer
678 views

Is the use of ellipses… rude? [closed]

Coming from the UK and in my experience in writing to people on-line, it seems that some cultures that use the English language do not understand that ellipses in communication can come across as ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

“Would you have a suggestion?” Vs. “Do you have a suggestion?”

If you were asking for suggestions, say at stackexchange, what would be the most polite grammatically accurate version: Statement of the problem followed by: 1. Do you have a suggestion? 2. Would ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

How to ask for a repeat in different way politely? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do you decide which phrase to use when asking people to repeat what they said? If I can't understand what someone said very well, how to ask him to repeat his words, ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

“How about” and politeness

Is it polite to use "how about..." in formal message or it will suit for close relations only? What should I use instead for stranger or boss? UPD: Example: You have just provided me with your phone ...
19
votes
10answers
10k views

Is “Yankee” derogatory?

I have heard of the term "Yankee" often referring to people in the Northern U.S. by Southerners. My question is: is this term considered derogatory or offensive and should it be avoided in formal ...
-2
votes
1answer
734 views

Questions with 'would' [closed]

Why most questions in English get asked with 'would'? Grammar books say that it's used for making a polite request, but doesn't talk about the grammar of the 'would' part. Do we have to answer ...
1
vote
1answer
638 views

Subjunctive mood: 'was' usage after 'I wish' and 'if only'

SFX Magazine had declared the sentence below as follow: 1) STAR TURN, 2) BEST LINES. I wish Bernard Cribbins was my grandad. Perhaps he would be willing to adopt? Rattigan: “If only that ...
1
vote
4answers
3k views

Should I use “damn” or “darn”? [closed]

How unseemly these days is it to use the word damn in educated or elderly circles? I have heard that there is a modified and supposedly less intense darn. Should I be careful to avoid the former and ...
4
votes
3answers
115k views

“Thank you all” — wrong or right?

On many occasions after we complete a speech, we often consider thanking our audience. In this scenario, I am not sure if "Thank you all" is the right English. Should it be "Thanking you all" instead ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Is thanks a countable noun? Many thanks or much thanks?

A colleague of mine recently wrote in an email "much thanks for your efforts." Does this usage make sense? How does "much thanks" differ from "many thanks"? This is similar to "Is “Many thanks” a ...
1
vote
3answers
359 views

Quoting poor English in a news article? I don't often see “[sic]”

I don't stumble upon "[sic]" as I read newspapers. I think it's safe to assume that plenty of those who are quoted in articles have botched their grammar more often than not. Here's what I'm asking: ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What would be a formal reply to “I need your help”? [closed]

A colleague emailed me saying I need your help but offering no further details. Now, what what be a formal reply to this which doesn't promise too much nor seem cold or unhelpful? a) Sure. ...
8
votes
2answers
526 views

How should one address a police officer in the US? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the correct form of address for a police officer? What is the correct way to address a police officer in the US in a non-emergency situation (such as asking ...
14
votes
6answers
5k views

What is the correct form of address for a police officer?

How should one address a police officer in English speaking countries? More specifically, in a non-emergency situation—asking directions for example—what is the expected form of address used to call a ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

“Hi ladies” — Is it rude to use this greeting for 3 people? [closed]

In addressing three people in an email isn't it more polite to use their names rather than "Hi ladies"? Also when you walk into a quad cubicle isn't it more polite to address people by their names? ...
14
votes
5answers
12k views

What’s wrong with saying “Have a nice day”?

I once read the book Class: A Guide Through the American Status System by Paul Fussell. There, he mentioned that saying “Have a nice day” was a faux pas, without elaborating why. I’m not American, ...
1
vote
0answers
5k views

Use “Hi gents” in an e-mail? [closed]

I would appreciate if someone could tell me if it would be appropriate English to write "Hi gents" in an e-mail to fellow directors? It's in a very informal context.
1
vote
3answers
503 views

What was the original purpose and origin of complimentary closes? [closed]

Emails and letters commonly end with a closing phrase such as Yours faithfully, Jonny McJoe ...but I never understood the reason why such a thing would come up in the first place. Maybe it's ...
8
votes
6answers
3k views

Is “IMHO” a rude thing to say (or type)?

The initialism1 IMHO stands for "in my humble opinion". It's commonly used in text-based communication (chat clients, forums, popular Q&A platforms). Here's an example: Person A: What do you ...
0
votes
2answers
527 views

How did southern US blacks address whites post-emancipation and pre-civil rights?

You hear it in movies like "The Help" all the time, but I'm trying to look for words like "missuh" and not finding any. Anyone familiar with the early 20th century African American lingo? I'm only ...
6
votes
4answers
36k views

What's the deal with “thank you kindly”?

Other questions on this site have established that kindly can be used as a sort of please. This usage was in my mind when someone said "Thank you kindly" to me, but "thank you please" doesn't make ...
-1
votes
1answer
189 views

Reminder of promised resource [closed]

Someone promised me a resource and I haven't received it yet. I am tired of waiting so I would like to remind this person that he/she promised me something and ask about the situation. My question is ...