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I'd like to know the simple expressions without offending others when I'm offered some help by friends, acquaintances or stangers. This is one example. Someone offers me help when I'm carrying a bag saying " Can I help you with your bag?" Another example is when I'm doing the preparation for the party, someone says " Do you need any help?" When I think I can manage, what sentence can I use? There seem to be several possible phrases as follows. Could you tell me the difference of these phrases?

  1. Thank you, but I’m good.
  2. Thank you, but I’m OK.
  3. Thank you, but I’m fine.
  4. Thank you, but that’s OK.
  • Also if this is offered by one of my friends, what sentence would be appropriate? – tennis girl Apr 4 '13 at 5:48
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    I like the verb you used while setting up this question: "No thanks, I can manage." That's a perfectly valid way to express this, among either friends or strangers. – J.R. Apr 4 '13 at 9:23
  • I didn't realize that I can say like that , using "manage". Thank you. – tennis girl Apr 4 '13 at 12:32
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    None of the examples you give in the question are bad choices by the way. – horatio Apr 5 '13 at 20:52
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    The only one that jars a bit is the bottom one; "thank you, but" is the start of a refusal, and "That's OK" is also the start of a refusal. Two starts and no ending doesn't work well. – Hellion Apr 5 '13 at 21:27
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I would say

I'm OK, thanks.

That puts the fact that I am OK as I am (no help is needed), and then thanks.
OK is simple to understand; there is no problem.

And I prefer a simple thanks; I think thank you is too formal replying to a stranger who speaks to you first. Especially if someone was bothering you (asking if you needed help when it was obviously not necessary).

  • I agree with brevity here. A simple, "Thanks, I'm good" would do the trick in this context. Are such answers so terse that they are impolite? I don't think so, particularly if they are spoken with a polite nod and a friendly smile. – J.R. Apr 4 '13 at 9:21
  • Thank you for all the interesting comments. I didn't realize that " thank you" sounds formal. Sounds like a simple sentence is better, if I say with a friendly smile. – tennis girl Apr 4 '13 at 12:31
2

The answer may depend on where you are, geographically-speaking. I'd like to provide an illustrative example, below.

Having spent a great deal of time in Montreal, QC, and Baltimore, MD, I notice a difference in this particular phrase. I might recommend that your #1 answer (Thank you, but I'm good) would be heard more often in Maryland, while your #2 answer (Thank you, but I'm okay) would be heard more often said to a friend in Ontario or Quebec. Even then, your #3 answer (Thank you, but I'm fine) would be heard more often when spoken to a person in a position of authority or a stranger in both locations.

Why did I italicise the more often? Simply because I think that all of these answers are acceptable.

1

Assuming that you're being offered help by a stranger in an airport or a bus or train station, and that you don't want your bag stolen, and don't want to encourage any additional conversation, I'd say Thank you for the offer, but it's not a problem if you have enough breath and don't want to be too dismissive, or Thank you, I'm fine if you want to be brief. The other three just don't sound right to me, but others may disagree.

1

If a friend offered help, then I’d probably say

Thanks much for the offer, but I think I can manage.

1

The four examples you listed are not offensive ways to reject assistance. They could be taken offensively depending on the tone of your voice and body language (by acting snobby or conceited). I would say:

Thanks, but I'll be ok. (Thank you, but I will be ok.)

A blatently offensive way of rejecting assistance would look like this:

No! Why would I need your help?

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