Be Polite In English And Stop Being RUDE | Useful Phrases For Speaking Politely

Lesson summary

If you don't know these rules, you may be speaking English impolitely. In today's English lesson you will learn the basic rules of being polite in English and you will learn some polite phrases that you can use.

Video transcript

I want a green tea.  Is this sentence polite in English? Let’s find out. 

 

What’s up guys? My name is Shane and today we are talking about how to be polite in English and how to stop being rude.

 

I understand that in many languages if you say I want this or I want that, it’s okay.

 

But in English if you say I want this or I want that, it’s not very nice. It has the feeling of being a demand and not a request. And a demand is something that must be done. It needs to be done.

 

But a request is more like a question and it’s more polite. It’s something that is asked for.

 

So in today’s lesson, we learn about the basics of being polite in English and we learn seven phrases that you can use to start sounding more polite in English.

 

And make sure you watch until the end of the video because there will be a quiz to test you understanding. Okay, let’s get started. 

 

Basic rules of being polite in English

So the first thing we need to do today is to learn the basics, to learn the rules of being polite in English.

 

Rule #1

The first thing you can do is: with polite phrases, when possible, use modal verbs.

 

For example: could or would. So you could say something like: could I have a coffee please? This is very polite.

 

Or would you like to go to a movie tonight? This is very polite.

 

Rule #2

The second thing you can do is: when possible, ask questions, don’t make statements.

 

For example: I want a coffee. No. Could I have a coffee? Yes.

 

Rule #3

The third thing you can do is: switch to the past tense when possible.

 

For example: don’t say do you want a coffee. Say did you want a coffee?

 

I understand we’re talking about right now but when we switch to the past tense in English, it makes it more polite.

 

Rule #4

And the fourth thing you can do is to learn phrases that native speakers use when they want to be polite. Let’s look at the first one right now.

 

Phrase #1

Let’s pretend you are at a restaurant. And you’re sitting down at the table looking at the menu. You’re still not ready to order but the waiter comes over to you and says: are you ready to order yet? What can you say to ask him for more time?

 

Don’t say: go away. This is very very impolite.

 

What you can say is: Could you give me a few minutes please? Could you give me a few minutes please?

 

This is a very polite phrase to say I’m not ready yet. Please come back soon. I’m not ready yet. Please come back soon.

 

And when a native speaker says this really quickly, it sounds like this. Couldjyuh give me a few minutes please? Couldjyuh give me a few minutes please?

 

We don’t say could you, we say couldjyuh. Couldjyuh give me a few minutes please? Now you try. Couldjyuh give me a few minutes please? 

 

Phrase #2

Let’s pretend you are at a café. You’re sitting down and you’re looking at the menu. You know what you want to order you want to order a green tea.

 

And the waiter comes over to you and he says what would you like to order? How can you ask for a green tea in a very polite way? 

 

Don’t say I want a green tea. 

 

What you can say instead is could I have a green tea please?  Could I have a green tea please? 

 

Another phrase you could use is: I’d like a green tea please.  I’d like a green tea please.  These two phrases are very polite ways to request for something in English. 

 

Phrase #3

Let’s pretend you are at university and you are doing a project with your friend and you need him to do something for you.  How can you ask him to do something for you?

 

Don’t say do this for me. Do this for me. No.

 

What you can say instead is: when you have a second, could you do this for me? When you have a second, could you do this for me? 

 

This is a very very polite way to ask someone to do something for you.  It means when you’re free, can you do this for me please? When you’re free, can you do this for me please?

 

Some other examples could be: when you have a second, could you call me please? Or when you have a second, could you go to the shop and get me some bread please? 

 

Phrase #4

Let’s pretend you need to ask someone a question. You need to ask about the location of the nearest train station. What can you say? 

 

Don’t say where is the nearest train station. 

 

What you can say instead is: I was wondering if you knew where the nearest train station was?  I was wondering if you knew where the nearest train station was? 

 

I was wondering if a very polite way to ask someone a question.

 

And note here how we say knew, we don’t say know. We say knew in the past tense because one of the rules of the basics of being polite in English is to change things to the past tense. 

 

You can also use this phrase on the phone. For example: hi, I was wondering if you could help me? I would like to speak to someone in the education department. 

 

So the next time you need to ask someone something, try this phrase. It’s very very polite. 

 

Phrase #5

Let’s pretend your friends ask you to go to a party on Saturday night and you don’t really want to go.  How can you politely decline or say no to their request? 

 

Don’t say no. 

 

What you can say instead is I would love to, but… I would love to, but.. and then you give a reason.

 

For example, you could say: I would love to but I have to work. Or I would love to but I have to study for my exam. This is a very polite way to say no to someone. 

 

Phrase #6

Let’s pretend you want to meet your friend for lunch next week, and you want to know what days he is free. What can you say to him? How can you ask that politely?

 

Don’t say tell me when you’re free.

 

What you can say instead is: let me know when you’re free.  Let me know when you’re free.

 

This is a very polite way to ask someone to tell you something. Let me know. Let me know when you’re free.

 

Phrase #7

Let’s pretend you are talking to your boss at work and he says something that you don’t agree with. You think he’s wrong. How can you politely disagree with him?

 

Don’t say you’re wrong. 

 

What you can say instead is: I understand what you’re saying, but …  I understand what you’re saying, but …  and then you give your reasons. 

 

So maybe you could say: I understand what you’re saying, but maybe you haven’t seen this part of the project yet. 

 

This is a very good phrase, a very polite phrase you can use to disagree with someone. 

 

Quiz

Okay so we have learned some basic phrases for being polite in English. But now let’s have a little quiz to test your understanding.  I will tell you a situation and I want you to tell me which polite phrase you could use in that situation. 

 

Number one. You’re at a shopping center and you see a juice bar and you want to go over there to order a strawberry juice. What could you say to the waiter? 

 

You could say: could I have a strawberry juice please?  Could I have a strawberry juice please? 

 

Remember, could I have is a very polite way to request something. 

 

Number two. You’re talking to your friend about English, how to learn English. And he says learning pronunciation isn’t very important, you don’t need to do it. And you disagree with that, what could you say to him?

 

You could say: I understand what you’re saying, but .. I understand what you’re saying, but .. and then give your reasons.

 

So remember, if you ever want to disagree with someone, you can always say I understand what you’re saying, but .. and then give your reasons. 

 

Number three. You’re at work and you’re doing project with your colleague. And you need your colleague to find some information for you. How can you politely request that your colleague finds that information for you?

 

You could say: when you’ve got a second, could you find the information for me?  When you’ve got a second, could you find the information for me?

 

Because remember, don’t say find the information for me. You need to say when you’ve got a second. This makes it really really polite.

 

And that is the end of the lesson today.  Now you know the basics of being polite in English.

 

And if you’re interested in learning more phrases native speakers use all the time, then you can check out this video right here. If you have any questions, please comment down below and if you haven’t subscribed already, make sure you subscribe right now so you don’t miss any video, just like this one, that can help you understand English like a native speaker.

 

If you learned something today, please hit like and please share this with your friends who are learning English so they can understand how to be polite in English and stop being rude.

 

And for daily quizzes, daily posts, videos, updates, lessons and much much more, make sure you are following me on Instagram and I will see you in the next video.  But you’re still not sure what you want to eat and what you want to. I want a green tea. No, no, no, no.  This is very …

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