Monday, December 12, 2016

Manners Cost Nothing: Being Polite in the English Language

English is a tricky language to master. In addition to irregular pronunciation and thousands of exceptions to every grammatical rule, you also have to navigate some of our weird customs, such as being polite.

So how can you be polite in English? Let's have a look at a couple of tricks you can use.

Would, Could, Should

We could go to the opera, instead.
In English it's better to avoid directly saying what you want. Rather than giving direct orders, you should make suggestions. There are some great ways to do this just by using different words in your sentences.

The words would, could, should are great for being polite. Instead of saying that you want something, say that you would like something. Rather than "I want to go to the cinema this Saturday", you could say "I would like to go to the cinema this Saturday".

You can also make suggestions using could. For example: "We could go to the cinema this Saturday".

Finally, you can use should to suggest things. In English, we use the word to imply a weak obligation and to give polite suggestions. For example: "We should go to the cinema this Saturday".

Avoid Negative Wording and Directly Disagreeing

You should avoid using negative words when you can. Instead, use a negative structure with positive words. Rather than "that's a bad idea", you could say "that's not a good idea". Directly disagreeing should also be avoided. "I don't really agree" should be used instead of "I disagree".

Of course, you don't always need to be this polite. Amongst trusted friends and colleagues, this level of politeness may be excessive. Being overly polite to close friends may be construed as fake and scheming.