What is a proper reply for excuse me? Like for thank you, you can say no problem or welcome. I don't know what a proper reply for excuse me would be.


If someone says "excuse me" to get your attention, the response is "I'm sorry, yes?" or something to that effect. If they say "excuse me" because you are in their way, then the response is to move out of the way and say "I'm sorry" or "sorry". And if they are saying "excuse me" in a loud, drawn-out, sarcastic way, the proper response is to tell them the 1980s called and they want their dated pop culture references back.

At least that's what I do.

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    The 90s called, and they want their dated pop culture reference back too! – Kosmonaut Mar 21 '11 at 2:29
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    Apparently, "<time period> called, and they want their X back" jokes are all the rage again, as of 5 minutes ago. Didn't you hear? – nohat Mar 21 '11 at 6:04
  • The 90s? What decade are you living in? – chasly - supports Monica Jan 4 at 23:20
  • @chasly-supportsMonica not the same one that we are living in – nohat Feb 5 at 4:30

There's more. Such a versatile phrase!

  • "Excuse me?" as a question is a request for a repeat of what was just said.
  • "Excuse me!" can also follow audible bodily functions and should be replied to with a polite, "You're excused."
  • "Excuse me," may be said by someone getting up to go to the bathroom in a restaurant or by someone needing to suddenly leave or take a cell phone call. A head nod is an appropriate response.
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    These are good additional cases where "excuse me" might be encountered, although in the case of the bodily functions, I think even more polite than saying "you're excused" would be to try your best to pretend it didn't happen. I couldn't imagine ever saying "you're excused" to anyone for any reason other than to a child. – nohat Mar 21 '11 at 3:56

I was taught to say "Certainly" in all cases, followed up by whatever action (or inaction in the case of "unseemly noises") might be appropriate.


Why? What have you done?

  • This is really a comment, not an answer to the question. Please use "add comment" to leave feedback for the author. – tchrist Aug 19 '12 at 2:24
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    Actually it is an answer. When someone says 'excuse me', if what they're asking from is not immediately obvious, its considered humorous (in the UK anyway) to enquire 'Why? What have you done?'. – 5arx Aug 19 '12 at 18:47
  • It’s a rude, smart-assed answer. It is not a courteous response. – tchrist Aug 19 '12 at 18:51
  • I disagree. It is in regular usage in this country and is considered perfectly humorous. I'd suggest that a far superior example of smart-assery is when people assume they know everything about a subject. – 5arx Aug 19 '12 at 18:54
  • @tchrist: You're right. 5arx's answer (it is an answer, not a comment) is technically a rude & smart-assed response to "Excuse me" if you think it is (the eye of the beholder & all that), but some people are literalists & respond literally to those who they might believe are speaking literally. OTOH, everyone has a different sense of humour, & some folks might not take umbrage as easily as others. It seems to me to be something you'd hear in a "chick-flick" or a Richard Gere movie: good-looking guy overwhelms emotionally needy good-looking girl with anti-chivalry. – user21497 Feb 19 '13 at 9:37

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