How to be polite in English


Social communication skills are the key to success in school, work and other activities of a person. In turn, the ability to communicate competently is based on a well-known quality - politeness. Ideally, it is brought up from childhood, but what about communication in a foreign language? After all, many begin to study it already in adulthood. Of course, you can limit yourself to the timely insertion of the words please, thank you, sorry, excuse me into your speech . However, ask yourself the question: “Am I able to use these units correctly and in a timely manner?” In this article we will try to answer this question.


As soon as you get what you want from the interlocutor, do not fail to thank him with this word.

  • Here is your umbrella. – Thank you (=Thanks).
  • Thank you (=thanks) for helping with the report.
  • Thank you (=thanks) so much for your advice.


This word is recommended to be used in all cases when you need to get or achieve something from the interlocutor.

  • Would you close the door, please?
  • Give Tom some time to think, please.
  • Don't turn the radio off, please.
  • Can I have your e-mail, please?
  • Could you give me your pen, please?

However, rhetoric experts do not recommend using this word often in communication with superiors. Instead, you should use expanded constructs with an if union :

  • If it is possible, would you be so kind to have a look at this document?


This word is used BEFORE disturbing, interrupting, or addressing someone.

  • Excuse me, where is the underground?
  • Excuse me, could you repeat the last sentence, please?
  • Excuse me, I have a question here.


This word, on the contrary, is used AFTER you have already disturbed or interrupted someone.

  • Sorry (= I'm sorry), did I interrupt you?
  • Sorry (=I'm sorry), I didn't mean to bother you.
  • Sorry (= I'm sorry), that was my mistake.
  • Sorry (= I'm sorry) for disturbing you during the lecture.

By the way, many people abuse the word 'pardon' instead of sorry in an excessive desire to seem polite. This should be avoided, as overly obsessive use of the word 'pardon' sounds vulgar and a bit dismissive. The only justified use of it is when you want to ask someone again.

  • They are moving out tomorrow. — Pardon? – I said, they are leaving tomorrow.

Another interesting fact: New Zealand scientists conducted a study and found that the word sorry is most often used when you feel embarrassed, for example, for passing salt to your neighbor at the table, and not pepper, as he asked.