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

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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
56k 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?
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votes
6answers
8k 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? ...
6
votes
5answers
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 ...
29
votes
8answers
24k views

“Toilet”, “lavatory” or “loo” for polite society

My friend is trying so hard to fit into polite society, and is raising her child to say loo rather than toilet. I know it should be lavatory (and I would not say lav) but we are in the 21st century ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a short phrase that expresses sincere thankfulness to someone who takes time to help me?

When I want to express my thankfulness to someone who takes time to help me, I would say: 您辛苦了 in Chinese, or お疲れ様でした in Japanese. Imprecisely, this means: You have taken a lot of ...
20
votes
11answers
5k views

Is “chubby” offensive?

I said to a person that she is "chubby" and, apparently, she took it very seriously. What I meant to say is that she's not skin and bones, she carried more pounds than needed but, precisely because of ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Is there any situation where I should use ‘Thank you’ instead of ‘Thanks’?

The EL&U’s archives told me ‘thanks’ is slightly more informal than ‘thank you’. I’d like to get a little more specific info. I’m now reading Harry Potter series and came across the following ...
1
vote
5answers
5k views

What is the opposite of “Could you talk a little louder”?

In a conversation, when I don't hear someone, I usually say: Could you talk a little louder please? However, what should I say if: Someone is being very loud in the other room when talking on ...
7
votes
3answers
8k views

Can “Sure” be used to respond to “Thanks”?

I often hear "Sure" in response when I say "Thank you" or "Thanks" to someone. I don't know — is this correct usage? If it is considered good, I'll use it someday.
22
votes
7answers
57k views

What is the meaning of “don't mention it” (in response to “thank you”)?

I read at several places that "don't mention it" is equal to "you're welcome". But for me, the word means something like "don't go around talking about this to anyone". So what is the real meaning of ...
6
votes
3answers
796 views

Is “girls” a suitable complementary term to go along with “guys”?

Trying to keep the discussion about language and meaning, and hopefully not getting socio-political, is "girls" a valid counterpart for "guys", as in "guys and girls"? The intention is to describe a ...
7
votes
2answers
25k views

“Thanks” or “thank you”?

Which one is correct — "Thank you Jim" or "Thanks Jim"? If I start an email with the sentence "Thank you Jim" in Outlook, it shows grammar error while if I begin with "Thanks Jim" it doesn't.
7
votes
5answers
36k views

What is a polite way to decline an invitation to hang out with someone?

If someone asks me to do something with them and I don't want to do that activity, how can I tell them "I don't want to hang out with you tonight" and not hurt their feelings? Normally I say ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

Asking a permission to ask a question by saying the word Question, followed by the actual question

My Mom does something that irks me. Either when she calls me, or sends me an e-mail, she says or writes "Question." Then asks whatever question it is. I find this rude. In my opinion starting the ...
3
votes
3answers
934 views

What is the polite way to acknowledge a pregnant lady after a long hiatus? [closed]

I knew her well, but I see her again when she's 7-months pregnant. Do I say, "Congrats on the upcoming baby?"
2
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I greet a group of teachers?

Suppose I'm walking in my school corridor and there are 4–5 teachers standing in the hallway. How can I greet them all at once? Anything better than "Greetings, teachers"?
55
votes
13answers
9k views

Is there a polite alternative to “No thanks, I'm full”?

English is not my native language, but when I was studying in the US, I was always trying to find an alternative to I'm full! I felt that it was a very improper way to express that I have eaten ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

How rude is “to eat like a pig”?

How rude is it to say : People eat crabs like a pig. Maybe it's not rude in plural sense like the above example but when you talk directly to someone? Also other terms which relate humans to ...
19
votes
4answers
22k views

“you” versus “You” as polite form of writing

Is it correct to write "You" with a capital Y as a form of politeness? If yes, should I use that form throughout the entire letter/document, or only at specific places?
9
votes
6answers
61k views

How do you respond back to “Hi, How is it going?”

I have observed that people from America, greet by asking, "Hi, how is it going?". I usually say, "It is going good" and return a smile. Sometimes, I have observed people saying "Thank you" and ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Are “Conditional apology” and “poisoned apology”, rude?

I've heard I'm sorry your frog is dead. I'm sorry if your frog's death causes you pain. I'm sorry my taunting you about your frog's death caused you pain. You should seek therapy. Do the ...
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5answers
5k views

What are the polite and neutral versions of “cut the bull*’?

I was wondering what are the polite and neutral versions of cut the bullshit? Suppose one calls his mobile customer service for signal problem, but the representative endlessly tries to promote ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Correct response to “Pardon me”

My young son recently started saying "Pardon me" after, for example, burping. We try to praise, or at least respond, when he does something right, as encouragement and as a form of learning. This ...
9
votes
2answers
45k views

Is “nice to meet you” an appropriate online salutation?

When one makes a new acquaintance with somebody in person, you may say "it was nice to meet you", e.g. when you leave. What if you make a new acquaintance over the internet, what do you say when you ...
5
votes
2answers
11k views

“Thanks for having me”

Recently, I finished my phone job interview with the phrase "Thanks for having me". It was a reply to the other person's "Thank you for your time". So, does "thanks for having me" sound alright in ...
4
votes
0answers
437 views

Why do people sometimes apologize when there is no need to? [closed]

An example that comes to mind would be I'm sorry, I just don't agree with you. There are better examples which I can't remember at the moment.
4
votes
4answers
582 views

Is it considered rude language to omit interrogatives in speech?

At least, I think the proper word is interrogatives. But, for example, in proper sentence structure, you would see sentences such as, Are you still here, Alouicious? Is there a doctor in the ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it rude to call a gay person “homosexual?”

I was talking to one of my co-workers today. We have two homosexual persons in our office. I forgot one's name, so I asked my co-worker, "What's his name?" My co-worker said "Who?", and I replied, ...
1
vote
2answers
9k views

When to call first name or last name? [closed]

For example, a man's name is Jeff Smith. My question is: When should I call him "Jeff"? When should I call him "Smith"? When should I call him "Jeff Smith"? in western.
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votes
6answers
134k views

“All The Best” vs “Best of Luck”

I heard somewhere that if we wish someone younger than us then say "Best of luck" and if we wish someone older than us then say " All The best". I don't know how much of this is true. Will you ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Answer to “enjoy your meal”

When you're having lunch and you see someone he can say "enjoy your meal", "bon appétit" or "enjoy". I can answer him by saying "thank you", for instance. But for example in Spanish we usually say a ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

Is it appropriate to call a British person a “Brit”?

Specifically, is it appropriate for a non-British person to call a British person a "Brit"? Whenever I see it from an American source it always feels too familiar or too informal, or both. But I can't ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

How to ask a knowledge question without causing offence?

By "knowledge question", I mean any sort of question intended to check whether the listener already knows the answer or not. For example: Are you familiar with how an operating system works? Do you ...
7
votes
3answers
25k views

“Thank both of you”

Is there a trace first person pronoun before the utterance "thank you", making it shorthand for "I/we thank you"? A ramification of this question is an expression of gratitude I just heard that ...
6
votes
5answers
921 views

What do I have to say when I enter into a house?

In Italy when you want to enter inside the house of a stranger or also of a friend you knock at the door and say, "Permesso?" meaning, "Can I enter?" or "Do I have the permission to enter in your ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Alternate, polite word for “Fee”

I want to inquire about fee for Tai Chi course. But, the word "Fee" would not be polite for such martial art. Would there be any alternate word I could use, which is more polite and kind to ask about ...
8
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6answers
7k views

Is “grammar nazi” politically correct?

I'm not a native English speaker and I'm puzzled where the use of grammar nazi would be appropriate. I have seen it numerous times around the SE network and was wondering when the use would be ...
7
votes
7answers
6k views

Is “Can I have a cup of coffee?” polite?

Is "Can I have a cup of coffee?" polite? What if I ask a store employee, "Can I have something?"
6
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8answers
2k views

Politically correct term for someone who is Internet challenged?

What is the politically correct term for someone who is not very Internet savvy?
3
votes
1answer
27k views

'May I speak to…' vs 'May I speak with…' vs 'May I talk to…' [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Speak to” vs. “Speak with” What is the difference between “speaking” and “talking”? What is the ideal opening line for a phone conversation? In ...
2
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3answers
2k views

How to ask the gender of someone if you have to? [closed]

In a global company, I often need to address someone in another country without knowing his/her gender in emails with a third person or with a group of people. It's awkward and inefficient to spell ...
12
votes
6answers
725 views

Will some parents be offended when being asked, “Is it male or female?”

If I ask the parent about a baby's gender, will it be impolite or not appropriate to say, "Is it male or female?" Is there any subtle difference, in terms of politeness, among "Is it a boy or ...
7
votes
7answers
926 views

A polite substitution for “lamer”

Is there a polite word that can be used to designate someone who didn't really understand what he or she was doing? Or, in general, someone who is intentionally ignorant of how things work. A "lamer" ...
27
votes
12answers
28k views

Are greetings and salutations redundant in an e-mail?

Do I really need to write my email this way? Hi John, [My Message here] Regards, Jane The email header already includes the to and from. The recipient should not be confused by who the ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Euphemisms for pornography, violence, and hate

My company is creating a website and we want to say that uploading of pornographic, violent, and hateful content is prohibited. Some people at the company think these exact words are too direct, so we ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

What are exchanges like “How are you,” “I'm fine,” and “See you later” called?

Some verbal/written exchanges convey almost no meaning but are part of the protocol of conversation. For example, somebody greets you with "How are you?" and they're not usually not listening for ...
8
votes
5answers
55k views

Is it acceptable to drop the comma in “Thanks, John”? [duplicate]

I grew up learning that the comma must be placed there, but it seems like an unnecessary interruption in a phrase that isn't ever spoken that way.