How to form a question without sounding rude. If I see someone coughing, should I say:

  1. Is it rude to wear a mask?


  1. Is it rude if I wear a mask?

And is it rude in the American culture?


If you really want to ask the person coughing, you might say:

Would/Do you mind if I wear a (face/surgical) mask?

But it might be simpler just to look away - if necessary to walk away - and slip on a mask without making a show of it.

It might depend on the circumstances. Certainly, in the light of the coronavirus, most of those concerned would simply put a mask on in any social situation in which they might become infected.

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