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

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2answers
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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
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2answers
608 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 ...
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6answers
9k 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
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2answers
5k 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
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5answers
21k 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, ...
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3answers
620 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 ...
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7answers
10k 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 ...
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2answers
794 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 ...
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4answers
54k 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
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1answer
297 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 ...
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3answers
6k 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."
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9answers
27k views

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

Is it correct to use Mr/Mrs with a first name?
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1answer
818 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
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2answers
919 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
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5answers
14k 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 ...
15
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4answers
163k 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
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1answer
728 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 ...
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4answers
9k 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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3answers
174 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 ...
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6answers
16k 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
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2answers
989 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 ...
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3answers
3k 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 ...
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7answers
57k 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
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4answers
13k 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.
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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.
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10answers
54k 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 ...
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3answers
13k 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 ...
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17answers
43k 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.
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3answers
285 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 ...
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2answers
3k 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
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2answers
4k 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 ...
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5answers
8k 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 ...
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2answers
616 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 ...
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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11answers
27k 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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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 ...
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6answers
84k 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 ...
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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7answers
8k 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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13answers
155k views

More formal way of saying: “Sorry to bug you again about this, but …”

I was wondering if there was a more formal and polite way of saying: Sorry to bug you again about this, but we still have not received a response about X .... (if we still have not received any ...
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6answers
10k 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? ...
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5answers
3k 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 ...
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8answers
32k 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 ...
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4answers
3k 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 ...
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11answers
8k 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 ...
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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 ...
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5answers
8k 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 ...
9
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3answers
11k 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.