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 the phone.
  • Someone is making too much noise.

I am looking for a polite expression. Any suggestions?

  • 2
    Actually, you could say, "Could you talk a little louder please?" and hope they get the hint.
    – GEdgar
    Jul 24, 2011 at 0:59
  • 8
    I usually go with "Could you speak up? I don't think they can hear you in Cleveland." (Note: Doesn't work if you live in Cleveland.)
    – Robusto
    Jul 24, 2011 at 1:33
  • 4
    Some people here have a very strange notion of "polite"...
    – user1635
    Jul 24, 2011 at 2:16
  • 1
    I usually ask my kids "Am I thinking too loud for you?"
    – pavium
    Jul 24, 2011 at 2:30
  • For my context of politeness, see my comment below but other than that, I am fine with anything that is not too offensive in the accepted notion of 'sentiment' grammar. @pavium: That's a good one! :)
    – Legend
    Jul 24, 2011 at 3:11

5 Answers 5


No matter how you say it it may come across as bossy, since the other person (in the situations you mention) isn't talking to you. I'd probably use:

"Would you tone it down a bit, please."

  • I think you're right there's not much hope of the other person accepting any form of words as "polite" in most such situations. You could try "Could you keep it down a little, please?". But I do despair of questions that seem to net down to "How do I say something offensive without seeming to be offensive?" Jul 24, 2011 at 2:26
  • Thank you for both your suggestions. @FumbleFingers: I believe that it does not hurt to be polite when saying something offensive :) I honestly try not to be sarcastic while saying such things but sometimes if the other person lacks the common courtesy of having a notion of 'sharing' when living in the same floor, it drives you crazy sometimes listening to their blabber from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM everyday, especially when you feel tired and all you need is that one more minute of sleep :)
    – Legend
    Jul 24, 2011 at 3:09
  • 1
    @Legend: I certainly agree politeness is normally desirable. In your situation the other person is clearly thoughtless - so he'll probably be (unjustly) offended at you seeking to constrain his selfish behaviour, regardless of whether you speak politely. I do sympathise, but I feel that in the end the best way forward in these situations is to be as honest and direct as possible. In hopes the other party will realise you are another human being just like him, which might make him consider your side of things a little more. Jul 24, 2011 at 3:18
  • @FumbleFingers: Point taken that I need to be honest and direct! I will try this out tomorrow and hope to survive his wrath :)
    – Legend
    Jul 24, 2011 at 3:23
  • @Legend: Good luck! But I hope you won't be offended if I say that yours is really a problem of social interaction than "language usage" as such. Still, if your neighbour invites you to "Step outside and say that!", by all means come back here and ask what that means - I'm sure you'll get plenty of answers! :) Jul 24, 2011 at 3:36

An alternative that is a little more formal, "Could you speak a little softer?" You could also follow it up with a reason or a thank you which would soften the tone. For example, if it's a conversation you're not involved in, "I'm having trouble hearing [someone]." If it's a conversation that you're involved in, you can also try speaking more softly yourself. A more conspiratorial statement would be, "Hey, let's not tell everyone our business," followed by you dropping your voice.

  • These are fine examples of comparative adverbs, where louder and softer are used as adverbs.
    – tchrist
    Dec 22, 2012 at 14:00

Could you lower your voice?

Please lower your voice.

Please talk quietly.


The exact opposite of louder is softer. Simply say: "It's too loud, could you speak a bit softer?"

  • Softer is not the exact opposite of louder. Soft can mean talk more nicely. Rather than saying fuck you, someone may say damn you instead.
    – user4951
    Aug 31, 2016 at 9:18
  • @Guru - Yes! In a music score the opposite of forte and piano (generally translated as loudly and softly.
    – Dan
    Aug 27, 2018 at 15:56

"Excuse me, but I wonder if you really want other people to overhear your conversation."

"I beg your pardon, but I was wondering if you were aware that you can be heard in the next room."

"It would just be so great if you could maybe speak a little more softly."

"It would really help me a lot if you could lower the volume just a bit."

"Oh, hey, I didn't mean to interrupt, but I was just thinking it sure is hard to get people to hear you on the other end of the phone, isn't it?" (And then most reasonable people would say, "Oh, am I speaking too loud. I'm sorry.")

In summary, you can try various combinations of the phrases suggested here. Put the pieces together any way that suits you, but I think you'll find that using exaggerated politeness and showing some empathy for the loud person's situation (even if you don't feel it's really warranted) can work wonders. Engage the person with respect and compassion (even if that person is not showing those qualities to you), and the good example you set will most often get a good response. (And be prepared to maintain your composure and politeness if the person responds with belligerence, so that you don't escalate the situation.)

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