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"Excuse me." is very often used in our daily conversation, and I learned the phrase "Excuse us." used when involving more than two persons. Then, how about "Excuse him / her / them."? For example, when you want your little kid to get out of the elevator ( which is packed with people and only your kid must leave ), can you say, "Excuse him." when it is a boy, and "Excuse her." when It is a girl?

  • 10
    You may also hear "excuse you", used in a sarcastic manner, when someone does something perceived as rude without apologizing. For example, someone bumps into you and knocks your books on the ground, but they continue on without apologizing, "excuse you" draws attention (of bystanders, usually) to their rudeness. Use sparingly. – BradC Dec 20 '16 at 19:47
  • I don't think "Excuse us" is at all normal in Britain. I don't recall ever having heard it. – xorsyst Dec 22 '16 at 12:00
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Yes, but ...

Saying "excuse him" is usually patronizing, implying that the other person is not responsible or polite enough to make his own apologies. If you're talking about a child, "Oh, please excuse my son, he doesn't know any better", well, we expect children to not be responsible. But if you say it about someone else, "Please excuse Fred", that's almost certainly insulting to Fred.

It may be, of course, that your intent is to say that Fred is irresponsible or rude, in which case "excuse him" would be totally appropriate.

The one example I can think of where it would not be insulting would be if the person could not be expected to know that something he did was inappropriate. Like, "Oh, please excuse Fred. He's still learning English, he didn't mean that statement the way it sounded."

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    My wife does this every time I crack a joke in public: "Please excuse him, his sense of humour is terrible." Basically, you're taking the responsibility for the indiscretion upon yourself, and apologising for it, so it's kind of in the form: "Please excuse my [wife, husband, child, pet, circumstance, etc]". – flith Dec 21 '16 at 13:08
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    Asking others to excuse a third person is also appropriate if the third person is not present: "Please excuse Fred [for not being here], his flight got delayed." – KRyan Dec 21 '16 at 18:51
  • @flith “Take my husband – please!” – Bradd Szonye Dec 21 '16 at 19:48
  • badummm-tish! – flith Dec 21 '16 at 20:08
  • +1. if you're learning English as a second language, you probably do not want to say "excuse him/her/them" under any circumstances until you become completely fluent. then again, you could experiment and learn from the reactions. – mobileink Dec 21 '16 at 21:35
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Yes, it is possible but not normally in that situation. "Please excuse us" is what we would be more likely to say, even if you are not in the way, to imply that you need to stay together and the other person is keeping you apart.

On the other hand, if you want to make excuses for someone else's rudeness or conduct, you can say, "Please excuse his behavior". More often you would simply apologize for whatever the other person did wrong, especially if you are responsible for them.

"I'm so sorry my son knocked down the Christmas tree, ate all the chocolates, and lit the dog on fire, he's such a naughty boy."

  • good example, but I would be more inclined to say "please forgive my nasty kid for ... " rather than "please excuse...". – mobileink Dec 21 '16 at 21:37
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The phrase

Please excuse someone

gets used as a polite way of saying

I'm about to do something impolite and am apologizing ahead of time

In your example, if your child is leaving the elevator alone you might say

Please excuse him/her.

since they may be too small to speak up for themselves. If you are also exiting the elevator you would say

Please excuse us.

The phrase is a polite form with "I'm sorry" implied.

When the third person (him/her) is used, the phrase may also mean

Please ignore/disregard what someone has just done.

Please excuse him, he's not been the same since the accident.

  • "Excuse him" can be used in a similar sense as "kono/ano kata, yurushite kudasai". – nijineko Dec 20 '16 at 19:53
  • good point. "excuse X" can be used either before the fact or after, unlike "please forgive". if somebody is standing in a doorway we want to pass through, we say "excuse me", as a polite way of saying "could you please move your fat ass out of the way?" but if we accidentally knock over sonebody's beer on the bar we say "excuse me" in the sense of "that was unintentional, please don't beat me up". – mobileink Dec 21 '16 at 21:43
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Yes it does, but you need to be careful of the social context, as using this expression wrong will be taken as an insult.

If you are the parent of a child, you can absolutely say "excuse him/her", as you are responsible for them. You would probably say "Please excuse him/her" to be even more polite.

However if the person you are trying to "excuse" is an adult who does not like you very much, it can be seen as an insult, like you're treating them as a child.

Say for example

"Excuse him, he's acting like a child"

Is something someone might say if they were unhappy with another person's behavior.

3

Yes, and as others have said it is sometimes and perhaps often seen as rude -- but not always.

When requesting excusal, one is asking for forgiveness for acting outside the expected or norm. "Excuse me" when you sneeze is asking forgiveness for the noise/matter you're expelling in the presence of others. "Excuse me" when trying to pass someone is asking forgiveness for requesting they move. "Excuse me for ____" is asking forgiveness for a specific thing ("my lateness", "asking [a personal question]", etc).

When you ask for the excusal of someone else, the implication is that they cannot ask themselves. In the absence of that person, it can be perfectly acceptable/polite ("Excuse him for missing our meeting, he missed his train", "Excuse his actions the other night, he feels very bad [and will apologize later]"). However, if you ask for someone's excusal in their presence the implication is that they are unable to ask for a reason, and often that reason is that they do not know/understand the expectation or norm they have violated. This compounds in to the excusal entreaty the notion of ignorance. They do not know is implied in the excusal of another one present, which can be seen as rude if the person is an adult and should know the norm or expectation.

It's not always rude, ignorance of a norm is sometimes expected such as when you are traveling: "Excuse him, he did not mean [ignore custom]". Or if a child is loud and rambunctious, a parent may say "Excuse him, he gets cranky when he's away from home".

Summing up: Yes, "excuse him" makes perfect sense, just be careful of the implications wrapped up in the asking excusal on the behalf of others.

  • Thanks for all of your comments. I think I could deepen my understanding about the usage of 'Excuse ...". Honestly speaking, I didn't expect it to have such a 'deep' meaning which may cause some dispute if used wrongly. I had thought "Excuse him." was used exactly in the same way as "Excuse me.", which I was thinking were both just a 'greeting'. Thanks again for all of your benefical comments! – Akihiro Dec 21 '16 at 9:56
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Yes, but generally in English, the phrase "Excuses Him/Her" is taken more literally, as in you actually wish for that person to be excused for their attitude or behaviour. Also: you never hear people say "Excuse Him" as a sentance on it's own, it is always followed by an explanation.

Examples:

Excuse him for his outbursts, he's drunk

Excuse her please, she just got out of prison

Most Common Variation:

You'll have to excuse him/her, [explanation goes here]

Whereas the phrase "Excuse Me" is more soft and for little things like nearly bumping into someone, accidentally burping out loud, not hearing what someone just said. It's almost synnonymous with the word "sorry". Likewise, when saying "Excuse Me", the phrase is often the whole sentence, as in there is no explanation that follows it.

  • So in that case, can the parent not say, "Excuse him, can you move out of the way to let him pass?" ( This is the case of the elevator crowded with people. ) If he can say it by himself, he'll do that, but if he's not old enoght to say that, probably his parent has to say that instead of him. – Akihiro Dec 23 '16 at 11:40

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