Being polite in English

May 16, 2011

Having good social skills is essential to create a good impression on the people you meet. In every culture there are some words and gestures that are considered polite. There are also some words and gestures that are considered impolite. Here is some advice on what is considered polite or impolite by people in the English-speaking countries.

Please, thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry

English people use these expressions all the time. Needless to say, non-native English speakers also need to cultivate the habit of using of them. If you don’t use them you will be considered rude. And people who are considered rude have a tough time succeeding in relationships and at workplace.

Use please whenever you want someone to do something for you.

  • Could you please bring me that file? (‘Could you bring me that file’ means the same, but it isn’t polite.)
  • Will you please move a bit?
  • Could you please tell me where the train station is?

Please is also used when you want something from another person.

  • Can I borrow your pen, please?

Use thank you, whenever someone does something for you.

  • “Here is your coat.’ ‘Thanks.’
  • Thanks so much for looking after the children.

Excuse me

Use excuse me before interrupting or disturbing somebody. Use Sorry after doing so.

  • Excuse me, could I get past?
    Sorry, did I step on your feet?