How to Be More Polite in English

The English are known around the world for being polite and restrained. Coming from a different culture, it can be difficult to express yourself the way that people expect within the UK, especially when you are just learning a language. Many times, the straight-forward way to say something linguistically (and the way that you are taught when you are starting to learn a language) is not necessarily the correct way to phrase it in a social context. When asking for things or just expressing what you want/need, there are ways to phrase those needs to avoid offending the person that you are speaking to.

When first learning a language, you often learn ‘blunt’ phrases which give the meaning such as ‘Ieave me alone’ rather than the best way to speak in a social context. Here are a few tips and alternative phrasings to help you enrich your English and speak more like a native.

I Want vs. I Would Like

Saying ‘I want a hamburger’ is correct, but usually an English person would say ‘I would like’ or ‘I’d like a hamburger’, which is considered more polite.

Send Me vs. Could You Send Me

Send is the verb here but you can change it for most other cases – rather than just saying ‘send me the work’ which is a command, it is considered better to ask a question, such as ‘could you send me the work’ or ‘would you be able to send me the work’. It is usually seen as rude to make demands of people rather than asking, even from a position of authority.

You’re Wrong vs. I Think You Might Be Mistaken

Disagreements can be difficult in any culture or language, which is why it’s most important to be polite when voicing your point of view to an opponent. Rather than telling somebody ‘you’re wrong’ it is better to explain that ‘you think’ they are wrong (so this is an opinion) and explain that it’s ‘a mistake’ rather than being ‘wrong’, which shows that it is a mistake to correct rather than a personal flaw.

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