I am talking with my colleague at work and I said "this man" told me, and I referred to the third highest colleague in functional class is with us. Is "this man" is not polite phrase?

  • What were the words, exactly (if you recall)? Oct 30 '15 at 20:44
  • Did you point to that man after you said "this man"? Oct 30 '15 at 20:44
  • he is angry because is said " this man " ... he say this phrase not formal Nov 1 '15 at 15:09
  • It has been suggested that say "Engineer Ashraf said to me," ... because I know his name not use "this man told me " Nov 1 '15 at 15:13

No, it is not.

This man will typically be understood as disparaging in all cases where the person's name or title are known.

So if you are talking about a specific person, please use

  • either the name

    Mr. Smith told me...

  • or first name

    John told me...

    depending on what is common in your team,

  • or the function/title or any other kind of description, especially if you want to emphazise the role or the name will not be immediately recognized or you don't know it

    The new collegue from Argentina told me...
    The man at the reception told me...

If everyone knows whom you are talking about, you may of course use the pronoun in the gender-appropriate form:

He told me... or She told me...

The only instance where this / that man / woman / ... is appropriate is if you need a demonstrative to point out a specific person who you can not "name properly" like in the examples above, often used to distinguish between two or more:

This man here has brought an umbrella, but that man over there apparently didn't.

Note that at least in formal or semi-formal settings the terms "man" or "woman" would often be replaced by "gentleman" or "lady".

  • If he was part of the group though, you could gesture and say "THIS man is a genius!" and it wouldn't be rude.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 31 '15 at 12:02
  • As I said - if you need a demonstrative. And a bit context-sensitive.
    – Stephie
    Oct 31 '15 at 13:00
  • But you can "name him properly" if you choose in that situation - the demonstrative is being used for emphasis. I don't think the question has enough information about the context to say definitively that it wasn't polite to say "this man", although it's most likely that it wasn't the best choice of words. I'm not really arguing with your answer - I'm pointing out that there is a lot of context sensitivity here. If someone says "This man" to the OP, he shouldn't immediately feel insulted.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 31 '15 at 14:47

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