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Being an English language learner for about 30 years, I still make mistakes.
In a written language, when I have misspelled and noticed it in a timely manner, I simply navigate to a wrong word and edit it.

However, in a spoken conversation, when I use a wrong word, I must stop and correct myself by saying a correct one. I've seen many ways to do that, but I'm still not sure which one to use:

He's going to school...

  • ...er... she's going;
  • ...sorry, I mean, she's going;
  • ...oops, she's going;
  • ...I'm sorry, let me restate it from the beginning, she's going;

What is the grammatical and polite way to correct myself in a spoken conversation?
Let's stick to a formal/business context if it matters.

Also, what part of a sentence should I repeat to make it clear?

  • I wouldn't use the last one, except perhaps in an oral English exam. It's too wordy for pretty much any conversational sense. – mcalex Feb 7 '13 at 17:17
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They're all fine, as is simply restating without comment:

He’s going to school— she’s going to school at Princeton.

On this site it may be worth observing that nobody expects spoken English to be perfectly expressed, from native speakers or anybody else. Speech is improvised: people start a sentence with only a general idea of where it’s going, change their minds in the middle, have second thoughts, find new ideas or expressions suddenly occurring. So if you listen closely to conversations, or if you read a literal transcript, you will find that errors are abundant. On the page, excited speech may be almost incomprehensible.

Consequently, most errors in speech are ignored, by both speakers and hearers. It’s taken for granted that errors will occur, and for the most part hearers make the necessary corrections automatically, from context.

Back when I was active in theatre I always told my actors to play through errors as if they hadn’t happened—“The audience’ll never know you screwed up unless you tell them.” The same principle operates in ordinary conversation: don’t make a correction at all unless there’s a real danger that what you said will be misunderstood. In your example, for instance, there's no need to back up unless two people, one male and one female, are under discussion.

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    It is also true that, in theatre, making a mistake, and trying to correct it would have a worse effect. I can imagine the effect of an actor saying "To me… to be, or not to be; this is the query… the question." :) – kiamlaluno Feb 7 '13 at 14:50
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    If it is important to stress that it is her and not him going to school, one might also use a pronounced "she", followed by a short pause and "is going..." instead of "she's". – Stephen Feb 7 '13 at 19:55
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    Yeah sometimes it's important to stress that you're "cancelling" the previous statement. I don't necessarily agree with this answer that you can just throw it aside and restate it with corrections applied. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 6 '15 at 21:05
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit I spend a large portion of my professional life editing talking-head video recordings, an exercise which requires paying very close attention to what people say rather than what people hear them say. I can assure you that changing (or finding) your syntax in the middle of a sentence is the rule rather than the exception even among very highly educated speakers. It is so common that, as I said, nobody notices. – StoneyB Mar 6 '15 at 22:17
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    @StoneyB: Maybe in your country! :) – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 7 '15 at 3:20

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