Recently when I told a British colleague of mine that he sent me the right assets earlier he told me this:

Wow, me being efficient? Doesn't sound right

I understand that this is supposed to be modesty in a funny way but I'm not sure how to respond to this. And so I choose an awkward silence instead. We have the same thing in the my own culture but translating the proper response there wouldn't make any sense in English. I know I can respond like this:

Oh! You're being too modest

But I don't want to sound like I'm from 18th century. So what could be the proper response to this sentence?

closed as primarily opinion-based by TRomano, user140086, Hellion, Nathaniel, Mitch Dec 17 '15 at 3:22

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    For communicating verbally, in person, I suggest a sensible chuckle rather than an awkward silence. It's a little joke, and you're both in on it, so it should be acknowledged. No additional response is required. – Spehro Pefhany Dec 16 '15 at 11:17
  • Out of interest, what is the proper response in your own culture? – user11752 Dec 16 '15 at 11:41
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    Not relevant, but this truth table about British politeness might come in handy next time! – BiscuitBoy Dec 16 '15 at 12:17
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    @nOjan: Thanks - you can say something similar in English, but it could be open to misinterpretation (especially to someone you didn't know very well). Jasper's answer would probably be the best bet. – user11752 Dec 16 '15 at 14:12
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    Extrapolating from the Truth Table in @BiscuitBoy's comment, above, this is what your British colleague was really saying: "Of course I did it correctly, unlike you, you fumblefingered clod" – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Dec 16 '15 at 20:50

You're too modest

is a common response. It does not make you sound like you are from the eighteenth century.


I'm not sure why you think you'd sound like you're from the 18th century. The word "modest" is still in common usage, as this ngrams link shows.

Personally I'd be more inclined to word it as:

Don't be so modest!

but your wording is fine.

As an aside, and not really a language but a cultural aspect, if I knew the person well enough I'd be tempted to respond:

Yes, I was surprised too!

  • I also would prefer using "Don't be so modest". +1) – user140086 Dec 16 '15 at 17:59

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