I can't find the "suitable" words that I can directly say to a person higher in position than me (like my English teacher). I want to be polite, but also say the truth :/

  • Assuming that what you want to tell that person is that what the person said or did was boring (and not that something somebody else said or did was boring), then there is no way accomplishing that without being insulting: any words that convey that idea are bound to be insulting because the idea itself is insulting, independently of how it is expressed. – jsw29 Jun 3 '20 at 23:18
  • I can think of some possible words that might express this, but it depends on why you think the person is boring or uninteresting. What are the specific circumstances that determine this judgment? Do they speak at length about the same thing? Do they not say much of anything at all, aside from occasional utterances that are cliche or mundane? – Jason Bassford Jun 3 '20 at 23:43
  • humdrum, monotonous, dreary, tedious, droning, toneless, soporific, repetitious, tiresome, plodding, colorless, mechanical – Hot Licks Jun 4 '20 at 0:06
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    If the focus is on the content, and not the instructor, then talking about yourself would not be impolite. For some reason, I find that I can't engage in your material. (Implication: You're to blame, not them.) – Jason Bassford Jun 4 '20 at 0:12
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    Definitely, focus on yourself. You are not fascinated, intrigued, or inspired enough to want to study or write about the Mayan civilization, or whatever. The slang is "I'm not turned on." You have not developed a deep interest in the topic. – Xanne Jun 4 '20 at 0:34

I would suggest "not engaging." It seems to me to take some of the weight off of the teacher by implicitly acknowledging the audience as part of the interaction. A perfectly good lecture may fail to engage and earn constructive criticism without implying a substantive shortcoming in the teacher.

(Of course, offense is often in the delivery and that part is up to you.)


Dry would be a pretty good choice as it is not a purely negative way of describing something that while informative, is not especially attractive in style. From Merriam-Webster:

12 a: not showing or communicating warmth, enthusiasm, or tender feeling : SEVERE

a dry style of painting


dry passages of description

a dry lecturer

c: lacking embellishment : PLAIN

14: marked by matter-of-fact, ironic, or terse manner of expression

a dry wit

has a very dry sense of humor


May I suggest:

  1. vanilla - Referring to the flavour, sort of means "standard". Nothing exciting about it, but not necessarily bad. It gets the job done.
  2. mundane - Lacking excitement. Basically means "not interesting". Could be considered insulting still.
  3. pedestrian - Same as above.
  4. unvaried - This one is probably not going to be insulting. It just means that the teacher wasn't very dynamic. A bit monotonous, but they got the job done.

It may also help to provide some more context. Why do you want to say they are boring or not interesting?

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    It is not clear why these should be regarded as more polite than boring or not interesting. – jsw29 Jun 3 '20 at 23:21
  • I've made an edit to explain my word choices – Chris Jun 3 '20 at 23:34
  • I find all of these alternatives (aside maybe from the last) to also be impolite. The last, while not necessarily impolite, is simply perplexing. I've never heard anybody described as unvaried before, and I'd have no idea what to make of it. – Jason Bassford Jun 3 '20 at 23:40
  • @JasonBassford Nowhere in the question does it say that these words are to be used to describe a person. I presume that OP is asking for a word to use to describe their English teacher's teaching style, but that is also why I asked for more context. With this in mind, do you agree that "Your teaching style is a bit vanilla" is less insulting than "Your teaching style is a bit boring"? Obviously this will always be subjective. – Chris Jun 3 '20 at 23:57
  • @Chris It doesn't matter if it's about the content rather than the person. Saying that to the instructor would just as impolite. Vanilla is impolite. Whether it's only slightly less polite doesn't seem to answer the spirit of the question. The instructor could still be offended by its used. – Jason Bassford Jun 4 '20 at 0:10

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