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

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-2
votes
1answer
790 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
769 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
4k 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
132k 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
6k 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
382 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
3k 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
548 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
6k 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
4k 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
14k 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
6k 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
537 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
4k 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
585 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
40k 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
206 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
4k views

Is “Thanks” a complete sentence? [closed]

When not used as a polite closing, are "Thanks" and "Thank you" sentences ending with a period? "Thanks. I appreciate your effort." "Thank you, Kevin. I will be in touch soon."
4
votes
9answers
13k views

Can “Mr”, “Mrs”, etc. be used with a first name?

Is it correct to use Mr/Mrs with a first name?
2
votes
1answer
637 views

Is it impolite to say “me” first? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Should I put myself last? “Me and my wife” or “my wife and me” Having been raised with German as my first language, my parents took very much ...
2
votes
2answers
716 views

Is “doesn't count for squat” an impolite phrase?

I recently used the phrase "doesn't count for squat" (meaning worthless) in a StackExchange comment, and then wondered if I was being impolite. I considered if "squat" was just a euphemism for ...
5
votes
5answers
8k views

When is Mr/Mrs appropriate?

I often receive business emails starting with "Dear Daniel..." or "Hello Daniel..." although I haven't been into contact with the sender before. As an Austrian citizen (thus german speaking) this is ...
11
votes
4answers
114k views

“Could you please” vs “Could you kindly”

I am a non-native speaker of English. When communicating with a professor, would it be better to use could you kindly send me the document or could you please send me the document? I know both are ...
2
votes
1answer
515 views

What are some phrases used to notify the speaker that you're still listening?

My employer often contacts me on chat and explains me what the next project is about. He does most of the talking, I just sometimes ask questions and throw in the occasional "okay" and "sure". These ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

“And to you” or “you too”?

I really like to chat with English folks, so I have wished them Merry Christmas. To my surprise I have noticed the following pattern — the British answered "and to you", but Americans "you too". The ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Addressing Professors: Between Dr. and a hard place

Early in my (academic) life, I was told that it is appropriate to address a faculty as Professor only when he/she possesses the full Professorial rank and I would be better off addressing Assistant ...
1
vote
3answers
169 views

Can I express future action without the exclusion of former activity?

Consider the following scenario. Someone is hired for a job and is new to the career field. For instance, a new accountant. After being an accountant for a very short period of time, and doing an ...
12
votes
6answers
12k views

What is a less offensive synonym for “hypocrite”?

Is there a word that describe a person who doesn't "practice what they preach"? Basically, is there a synonym for "hypocrite" that carries less pejorative connotations? For example, let's say a ...
2
votes
2answers
837 views

How do I reject an offer? [closed]

Recently I got an offer letter from one of the top companies. However, because of some unexpected situations I want to reject the offer. In the mail I've explained all the reasons, but I am finding it ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Beg to differ - Why is there a need to beg for differ

Wouldn't 'Wish to differ' be better than 'Beg to differ'? A friend of mine asked me why I like to 'beg to differ', instead of 'wish to differ' or 'want to differ'. Any insight on the history of 'Beg ...
7
votes
7answers
39k views

Should I say “have a good night” at 5:00 PM?

We're off work at 5:00PM. I've never tried to say "have a good night" at this time of day. In fact, I wouldn't even say it at all unless I'd like to say it to someone who is heading to bed. When I'm ...
2
votes
4answers
6k views

Is it right to say “Thank you” in the response of “Thank you”?

When two persons help each other and one said "thank you" then is it right to say "Thank you" in the response.
4
votes
2answers
990 views

Is it offensive to call a Jewish person a “semite”?

Is it considered offensive to call a Jewish person a Semite? I've heard the phrase anti-semite or anti-semitism, but I've never heard someone call someone a Semite.
74
votes
10answers
34k views

Can “thanks in advance” be considered rude?

Some argue that because “thanks in advance” is written before any help has been offered, it adds an expectation of help and thus can be considered presumptuous. Is this reasonable? Would it be ...
9
votes
3answers
8k views

Difference between “Excuse me” and “Sorry”

What is the difference between "Excuse me, ..." and "Sorry, ..."? When do we use one or the other? For example, when you haven't heard the speaker, or stepped on someone's foot or accidentally ...
25
votes
16answers
31k views

Polite synonyms for “a——hole-ish” behavior

Are there any polite synonyms for asshole-ish behavior? A good synonym would probably have about the same impact and wouldn't send people looking for their dictionaries.
2
votes
3answers
271 views

Does ‘the moment’ clause always need an unpleasant or surprising situation?

When I wrote thank you to a commentator in this site, I added a message to it like this: “It all clicked into place the moment I saw your comment!” After a while, I came across an article about the ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Does “flattered” have a negative meaning in this context?

When I finished my business trip, my customer unexpectedly invited me to his home for dinner. Can I say "I am flattered" to show my unexpectation of their kindness? And what else can I say in this ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Can “No thanks” be used in place of “No need to say thanks”?

A colleague did some work for me (which was his job anyway) and when I said thanks, he said "no thanks". I was puzzled, and asked why he said that. He told me that an American once told him that ...
15
votes
5answers
6k views

How should I address a professor in the US?

I am always puzzled about how students address a professor in America. Perhaps "Professor + Last name" is the most formal way to do. Here are my questions: What if the last name of a professor is ...
3
votes
2answers
528 views

Letter-writing tone as perceived by other nationalities

A question that has been bugging me for quite a while was raised by some communication between my employer and a partner organisation based in Dubai. It turned out that more than once, it's been ...
1
vote
3answers
937 views

“Writer's writer” — who can say it?

When someone says: This author is a writer's writer. I understand that as meaning the author is accomplished and generally excellent. It's a bit fuzzy in my mind how it can mean this, but I can ...
13
votes
11answers
19k views

Polite way to refuse to answer a question

It sometimes happens that I am asked a question which I am uncomfortable answering for a variety of reasons (it invades my privacy, the answer may hurt the person asking, it is painful for me to ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Is the expression “to float someone's boat” possible outside of “Whatever floats your boat”?

According to the Urban Dictionary, the expression "whatever floats your boat" means [...] whatever "soothes your soul" or whatever "works best" Aka- Whatever you feel like doing. Is it possible ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

When to use decline for polite refusal and when not to

In a business English class: One of my students said: "I decline your report." I said that was wrong, but I couldn't think of a concrete reason, or rule for when I can use decline as a polite ...
9
votes
6answers
53k views

Madam vs. Ma'am

I suspect that the answer to this depends on region, so insights from multiple areas would be beneficial: It has been my impression that in the US addressing a woman as "Madam" is considered ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Polite way of calling someone for help

At work, how can I say "whenever you are ready I am ready." I would like to say "I am ready so please help me when you are available." Here is my full email: Hello #### Whenever you are ...
10
votes
7answers
6k views

When is it appropriate or disrespectful to refer to someone as “she”?

My boss has asked me not to refer to her as she because she says it's disrespectful. After I refer to her by her proper name or by her title, isn't it appropriate to refer to her as she?
0
votes
6answers
7k views

Replying to a favour done by someone

Some people did me a big favour. What should I ask them after their help? I have tried to ask directly, using the following sentences: What would you like me to do to pay back what I owe you? ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the “superlative” way of expressing “thank you”

On rare occasions, you are in a situation where a simple Thank You seems like you're undermining the other person's help. You know, instances where you are too grateful to express your feelings of ...