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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Polite Expression

In order to be polite when you are speaking English, you need to use these phrases correctly.

Excuse Me….

You say Excuse me when you want to go past somebody. You also say excuse me to somebody you do not know when you want to attract their attention.

Excuse me, could you tell me the way to the station?
Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?

Sorry…

You say sorry when you need to apologize for something small:

Sorry I'm late.

I beg your pardon is a formal expression:

I beg your pardon! I must have picked up the wrong bag by mistake.

Sorry or I'm sorry is used frequently in Britain English:


I'm sorry, but do you think you could move your car? (I apologize in advance for any inconvenience.)

In American English Pardon me and Excuse me are used for apologies:

Excuse me/ pardon me, I didn't see you there.

In British English you say Pardon? Or Sorry? And in American English Pardon me? Or Excuse me? When you did not hear or understand what somebody said and want them to repeat it:

Pardon, could you say that again?

It is not polite to say What? If you have not heard or understood something.

I'm afraid…

You use the phrase I'm afraid… when you want to apologize because you have to tell somebody something that they may not like:

I'm afraid there's been an accident.
Nina's not here at the moment, I'm afraid. Can I take a message?
'Do you have any decaffeinated coffee?' 'I'm afraid not.'
'Has the last bus gone?' 'I'm afraid so.'

I wonder if…

You use expressions which show hesitancy when you are asking somebody to do something or asking for a favor:

Could you just help me move this box, please?
I wonder if I could have a copy of that letter.
Would you mind if I felt a few minutes early today?
Do you think I could borrow your car this evening?

Please…

You say Please when you ask for something. In British English it introduces or ends a request:

Please could I have the menu?
Could I have the menu, please?

You also use please when you ask somebody to do something:

Could you post this letter for me, please?
Please could you post this letter for me?

Thank You …

When somebody gives you something, or when you buy something or receive information. You are expected to say Thank you or Thanks. Some people may be offended if you say nothing.

It is not usual to say anything in response to Thank you in British English, Although some people may say That's all right, That's okay or Don't mention it. In American English you're welcome is common.

You say Thank you or Yes. Please when you want to accept something:

'How about another cup of coffee?' 'Thank you.' / 'Thanks.' / 'yes, please.'

You say No, thank you or no, thanks when you want you want to refuse something:

' Would you like some more cake?' 'No, thank you.' / 'No, thanks,'

Cheers…

Cheers is often used in informal British English to mean Thank you:

'Here's that $5 I owe you.' 'Oh, cheers.'

You also say Cheers before you have a drink when you are with other people.

Source: Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary 1977

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