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I wonder if someone could tell me which one of the following choices work in AmE nowadays as a polite way of bringing up a disagreement:

-A- I take the liberty to disagree.
-B- I humbly disagree.
-C- I dare to disagree.
-D- I venture to disagree.

I guess excepting "D" all of them work, but "C" sounds a bit old-fashioned and the most appropriate is "B". Anyway I think "A" and "B" cannot be used in separated contexts and they mean the same.

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-A- I take the liberty to disagree.

I've never heard this. It sounds very constructed to me.

-B- I humbly disagree.

This works, but is very formal.

-C- I dare to disagree.

I've never heard this. It sounds very odd to me.

-D- I venture to disagree.

This sounds grammatically incorrect. I would say "I WOULD venture to disagree." personally. Again, very formal.

In conclusion, B and D work for very formally disagreeing with somebody. Or you could even use "I respectfully disagree." But there are a host of less formal ways to disagree with people as well. Personally, I would probably say something diplomatic like...

  • "Are you sure about that?"
  • "Maybe, but I think..."
  • "I'm not sure that's the best idea."
  • etc.

If you want to disagree with somebody and really emphasize disagreement, you can simply use "I disagree."

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  • 2
    I disagree. (Just kidding; actually, I agree wholeheartedly). I'm especially glad you mentioned that last point: there's no need to beg, venture, dare, or take the liberty to disagree with someone; the two-word I disagree stands just fine on its own. There's one adverb I might recommend in some contexts, though: I respectfully disagree – that can be used to politely emphasize how we respect the other person's opinion. Another way to show that respect (at the conclusion of a debate) is the more idiomatic, "Maybe we'll have to agree to disagree." – J.R. Apr 20 '14 at 10:17
  • @AdmiralAdama but what if you want to disagree with the director of your university, the president of a very popular firm, the prime minister of a country in an international congress etc.? What is used in these days of written / polite AmE? I think J.R.'s "I respectfully disagree" works the best. Am I right? ;) – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 10:55
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    These aren't "incorrect," but I wouldn't say these, nor do I hear my friends and colleagues speak this way. You asked for ways to politely express disagreement; I disagree suits that purpose just fine. Moreover, the Admiral has provided a few alternatives that sound more natural than the wordings you asked about. I can't think of a situation where I'd say, "I dare to disagree." I might say it in the past tense – "I dared to disagree" – but only if I was telling someone about how I disagreed with an authority figure in public: The boss said things were going well, but I dared to disagree. – J.R. Apr 20 '14 at 10:55
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    As for disagreeing with "the director of your university, the president of a very popular firm, the prime minister of a country in an international congress, etc.?" that's a different question, but the same rules apply; you just need to be more careful and respectful with your language overall. That probably has more to do with tone and mannerisms and the other things you say than how you choose to word, "I disagree." However, something like this might work: "I hope you don't mind me saying this, Mr. President, but I can't agree with your stance on this issue. Please let me explain why..." – J.R. Apr 20 '14 at 10:59
  • Wow. Perfect. You always help me @J.R. :) I really appreciate your posts. But now I realize how big cultural distance there is between eastern and western languages! Thanks again... And my last question is about your opinion about "I beg to disagree". Is it old-fashioned or like those two my offered sentences it sounds a bit stilted and too formal? – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 11:03
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I would say:

I beg to disagree.

As for your options:

-A- I will/would take the liberty to disagree.

when you take the liberty to disagree, you have the freedom to do so, but no disagreement occurs at that moment. Either you will disagree, or you already disagreed. So it would be the above or:

I took the liberty to disagree.

next...

-B- I humbly disagree.

is very formal.

-C- I dare to disagree.

when you disagree but don't think you have the right or basis to disagree. You are taking a chance.

-D- I venture to disagree.

considering the option to disagree (or not), and taking a chance in the process. Venture is a risk in this case.

For example,

I would venture to disagree with your review of that movie.

This means I would consider disagreeing with your review of the movie, taking a chance that I may be wrong.

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  • Thank you @user3169 But could you answer my following questions too: 1) I beg to disagree =?= I will/would take the liberty to disagree. 2) Is "I dare to disagree" interrogative? I think it is like a question and should be stated with an interrogative intonation. Am I right? 3) I didn't understand what you meant by: "I venture to disagree." --> "taking the option to disagree (or not)." /// "considering the option to disagree (or not)" Could you possibly explain a little bit more? :) – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 5:47
  • @A-friend Can't make out 1). 2)"Sorry but I dare to disagree with you.", or Do I dare to disagree with you?". It could be either. 3) For example, "I would venture to disagree with your review of that movie". This means I would consider disagreeing with your review of the movie, taking a chance that I may be wrong. I added this detail to my answer. – user3169 Apr 20 '14 at 6:34
  • and finally why did you add "will/would" before take the liberty...? Is my suggested sentence incorrect without them? – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 6:43
  • @A-friend Good question, you got me thinking at this hour. I added some detail to my answer so please check it. – user3169 Apr 20 '14 at 7:14
  • It was an awesome answer. Thank you very much @user3169. :) – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 7:35
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All of the sentences you said are grammatically correct, but they are very formal or old-fashioned and they would be used in writing if used at all. In what situation are you using these sentences? If you want to disagree in a more normal situation you can use the word "actually" in the beginning of your sentence. The word "actually" is used to more politely tell someone that you don't agree, and then you won't need to say "I don't agree". For example:

Person A: "I think the Earth is flat."

Person B: "Actually, the Earth is round."

"Actually" can also be used with "I don't agree", so you could say: "Actually, I don't agree with that."

In English, the less firmly you state something, the more polite it is, so any words or phrases you add to the sentence that make it less specific, less direct, or more of an isolated opinion will make it more polite. Using these phrases (or combining them) can make your sentence more polite when you are introducing what you are disagreeing about or stating your opposing opinion:

I think (that) ....
It seems (that) ....
Generally, ....
Occasionally, ....
... tend to ....
It's possible (that) ....
(replace regular adjective form with a comparative form)
(replace "is" with "can be" or "could be")

A direct (and less polite) disagreement:

Sports players are rude.

The polite way:

Occasionally, sports players can be a little rude. OR
Occasionally, sports players tend to be a little rude.

Other examples:

The end of the world is near. -> I think it's possible that the end of the world is nearer.

This movie is terrible. -> Some people think this movie isn't very good.

There are many combinations of these phrases you can use, and this way of disagreeing politely can be used in conversational English or written English.

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