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

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3
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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
2k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
928 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
9k 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
6k 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
30k 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
802 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
6k 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
13k 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
838 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
824 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
146k 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
7k 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
395 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
558 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
15k 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
570 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
5k 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
632 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
43k 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
224 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
5k 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
16k 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
680 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
782 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
9k 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
125k 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
569 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
4answers
6k 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 ...
3
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
171 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
13k 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
866 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
43k 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
7k 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
1k 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.
76
votes
10answers
37k 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
9k 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
34k 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
275 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 ...