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

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12
votes
11answers
18k 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 ...
24
votes
12answers
8k views

How do I politely say I have used my mouth while drinking water from a bottle?

Is there a one word substitute for the scenario below, and what is the politest way of saying it to another person or colleague? I drink water from my bottle by touching my mouth When someone ...
1
vote
2answers
31 views

Difference beween requests “can”, “could” and “may”? [duplicate]

We can use can, could, and may for requests and permissions, but is there any difference between the meanings of the following three versions? May I go? Can I go? Could I go?
0
votes
1answer
454 views

Is asking “come again?” to a complete stranger over the phone rude?

My Irish colleague told me that when talking to a customer over the phone asking:"come again?" is considered rude and even offensive since it is very informal and almost demanding. Now I did not ...
1
vote
5answers
80 views

“At my earliest convenience”

I'm quite used to using the phrase "at your earliest convenience" to express urgency but also polite sensitivity to others' schedules and deadlines. It means "Please do this as son as you can without ...
7
votes
4answers
29k views

When do I use a question mark with “Could you [please] …”

A sentence like Could you please pass me the pepper shaker is not really a question. Should I use a question mark or a period to end this sentence? What about: Could you let me know when ...
2
votes
5answers
11k views

What should be the proper reply for thanks?

I like a girl which is in same division as I am. Recently she was suffering from malaria and when I came to know this I sent a "Get well soon!" message. We have hardly exchanged any words in labs and ...
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 ...
0
votes
5answers
9k views

I would like to kindly ask you could you check…?

I just want to know I would like to kindly ask you could you check......? could be a right structure for asking question? regards
6
votes
6answers
9k views

“Good night” or “good evening”?

If it's 7:30pm, which of these phrases is correct, Good night or Good evening?
0
votes
6answers
1k views

How to say “I'm sorry for such a bother” [closed]

I am in the middle of constructing my email to my colleague and I am out of words on how to say "I'm sorry for such a bother". Is there any other way of saying it politely?
0
votes
0answers
80 views

Is it polite to say 'thank you guys' if both genders were involved? [duplicate]

Related: Is "guy" gender-neutral? Discussion about more formal version: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1620575 Thank you (thank you guys)
0
votes
0answers
68 views

Do vs. did in “do you want to join us?” [duplicate]

What exactly is the difference in meaning between the questions Do you want to join us? and Did you want to join us? in the context of a group of people asking asking another person who ...
4
votes
3answers
119 views

Is addressing a guy as “guy” rude?

Non-native here, is addressing a guy as just "guy" considered rude? Like, while addressing a pet-store clerk: "Hey, guy, how many mice will $13 buy?" Also, how long has it been in use?
2
votes
1answer
92 views

What are the most common ways to say “die”, i.e. pass away? [closed]

It seems like my question was too broad to answer. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I've edited my question a little. So, I would like to know what common terms I can use instead of the word "die." ...
2
votes
1answer
101 views

Is “thank's” an alternative correct spelling?

My colleague who is American spells "thank's" (with an apostrophe) and when I ask him why he said because it's "more formal" and "he uses American English". Is this true? Can you really spell ...
-1
votes
1answer
62 views

Do both of these introductions mean the same thing and make sense?

I work with someone whom I have not yet introduced myself to; someone usually introduces a new person around the office but I wasn’t in on this person’s first day, so I missed that. Anyway, on ...
5
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
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
5answers
900 views

How can I politely express that “I have understood”?

When my professor instructs me during his/her office hour, I may simply show my understanding by "Got it" or "I see". But I wonder how to say that politely and professionally in written English, ...
1
vote
2answers
76 views

How to address a female interviewer

So just had a phone interview, the interviewer was a lady, now that i want to write a thank you letter, how should i address her, Ms or Mrs, because i am not supposed to know she's married or not
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 ...
14
votes
5answers
13k 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, ...
0
votes
3answers
55 views

What is the correct way to respond to sender with full name

I recently received an email I need to respond to, but I am unsure of the correct way to address the sender. Dear Mr Sayse, [ . . . email body . . . ] Regards Joe Bloggs Is it ...
11
votes
4answers
105k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
78 views

Diplomatic word to express having difficulty or finding it unpleasant working with someone. [closed]

I'm filling out a feedback form for a senior colleague who I've been working with, I want say something like Last year I had some difficulty working with John, but since the start of the year ...
0
votes
1answer
58 views

“Take the weight off your feet”: offensive?

I kind of have the impression that the phrase, "take the weight off your feet," is offensive towards fat people (sorry couldn't think of any PC terms). Is my impression correct? or have I just ...
2
votes
3answers
236 views

Pretty Please and Similar Phrases

I was wondering who uses 'pretty please?' Is it used mainly by girls? Under what circumstances? Thank you for replying.
1
vote
2answers
64 views

Usage of “acknowledge” [closed]

Is it acceptable to write "We acknowledge Dr. AAA for his useful advice" to express gratitude or appreciation?
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
5answers
116 views

Is it appropriate or polite to say 'I am here to educate you'?

When doing a presentation, is the following introduction I am here to educate you (or) Let me educate you considered polite to say to an audience?
3
votes
3answers
7k views

“Much obliged” — Old-fashioned? Polite? Pedantic?

I've heard someone say "Much obliged!" a couple of times, instead of the usual "Thank you!". A common phrase in Portuguese ("Muito Obrigado") and maybe other languages, but certainly unusual in ...
5
votes
1answer
660 views

How do words become derogatory or politically incorrect?

I know how words can become racist but I'm not sure how a word becomes derogatory or politically incorrect. If seems as though once one does, a new term is created to replace it that is not derogatory ...
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 ...
12
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
-1
votes
8answers
971 views

A 'polite' way to say that someone is fat [closed]

Can you help in finding an adjective or expression that you can use to tell a persons that they are fat or overweight in a as neutral as possible way. The overweight person in question is very ...
-2
votes
1answer
94 views

Is it appropriate to use question marks in email? [closed]

I am a student and write to professors frequently. And often, I have to use sentences like this - Could you give me an appointment to meet you regarding this matter. I am usually confused ...
7
votes
7answers
862 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" ...
2
votes
4answers
144 views

Is there a more tactful way to tell someone they are “difficult to work with”?

I want to tell someone they have been “difficult to work with” in writing, but I don’t want to put it quite so directly. Is there another way to write it so that doesn’t sound as if it were some ...
4
votes
2answers
119 views

Males, Females, Girls and Guys

Is there a predominant pattern of usage of the terms girls and guys based on age of the described individuals? Are the patterns the same in the US and UK? At about what age is it considered ...
8
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
5
votes
9answers
829 views

What is a female or gender neutral form of gentleman that relays the same tone of respect? [duplicate]

At my office when referring to customers or external vendors I often use the word gentleman. I do this in effort to show that I’m speaking respectfully about them so the content and tone of my ...
11
votes
21answers
3k views

What is a word to describe a statement that seems meaningless

Is there a phrase or word in the English language that describes a statement or a discourse that seems meaningless or so broad it lacks value? For example Society grows best when those who plant ...
72
votes
10answers
31k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the best way of conveying respect to elders in English? [duplicate]

In Afrikaans, it is considered very disrespectful to use "you" ( "jy") when referring to someone who is above the level of a peer. Instead, it is expected that you use "u", which is a very respectful ...
0
votes
2answers
592 views
10
votes
5answers
51k views

“Thank you very much” vs. “Thank you so much”

Some people used to say: Thank you very much. Where others say: Thank you so much. Could anybody please explain what differences there may be between those, whether of correctness or ...
-1
votes
4answers
570 views

What is the expected response to someone saying “Happy Vacations” to you? [closed]

Someone has messaged me: Happy vacations. Are the following replies correct? Now it would be good. Same to you too! Or should it be Same to you too! Now it would be good. I want it to sound ...
6
votes
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?
1
vote
2answers
86 views

Is “Can you carry this book?” acceptable? [closed]

Is it grammatically correct to say: Can you carry this book? I said this to a friend and this person commented that I need to learn grammar. To me the statement seems grammatically correct and ...