95 votes
Accepted

What's a polite way of asking "who are you?" on the phone?

"Who should I say is calling?"
JeremyC's user avatar
  • 5,668
60 votes
Accepted

Is "cops" (= police) a slang/derogatory term?

I am going to write this answer from a sociolinguistic perspective, because there is a lot at stake that can't be explained with a yes/no answer. Nonetheless we shall still make an attempt at giving a ...
Eddie Kal's user avatar
  • 18.9k
50 votes

What's a polite way of asking "who are you?" on the phone?

As far as politeness goes, the following examples, along with what JeremyC has already suggested, would also be some of the safest ways to ask people for their names when talking with them over the ...
Michael Rybkin's user avatar
49 votes

What to answer to "you're too kind"?

"You're too kind" is not meant to be taken literally. It is a hyperbole. Read literally, the person is saying "I do not deserve the amount of kindness you display to me." As an ...
randomhead's user avatar
  • 21.1k
37 votes
Accepted

Was it impolite for me to say "That's alright" when someone ran into me? Are there any better expessions?

It's fine as a response to an apology. However you should be careful not to use it if the accident is your fault (even if they apologize first) since, "It's all right," implies that you forgive the ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
36 votes

What's the polite way to say "I need to urinate"?

Excuse me for a moment please This leaves both purpose and destination unstated, but by making it clear that the absence will be very temporary, does not cause anyone to think that it is a total ...
David Siegel's user avatar
  • 41.1k
35 votes
Accepted

Will you be my friend?

"Will you be my friend?" is the kind of thing children might say to each other. Adults rarely feel comfortable so openly asking for friendship. Alternatively, most people will suggest activities you ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
33 votes

"Keep my mouth shut"....is it rude to say?

The phrase keep your mouth shut could be used literally, as you have used it, to mean that you should physically close your mouth to keep something from getting into it. I can think of no situation ...
EllieK's user avatar
  • 9,195
32 votes
Accepted

Is referring to people as "it" considered rude?

English doesn't have the same kind of strictures regarding how to reference people as Japanese does. We don't, out of politeness, refer to people as "that side" or "next door" (the way my Japanese in-...
Robusto's user avatar
  • 14.4k
30 votes
Accepted

What should I answer to "after you"

You basically have two choices Thank you Thank you that's very kind and continue walking in, or saying No, please, after you Please, no, after you stopping before entering, extending your ...
Peter's user avatar
  • 66.2k
30 votes

What's the polite way to say "I need to urinate"?

The right way to say this in the UK would be "I need to go to the toilet" or just "I need the toilet". Contrary to puppetsock, the word "WC" is hardly used these days, and younger people especially ...
Daniel Roseman's user avatar
27 votes

"Keep my mouth shut"....is it rude to say?

Answering from a US English perspective. I think what you said was misheard. I can't think of a situation where talking about keeping your own mouth shut would be rude. But telling someone else to ...
Ocie Mitchell's user avatar
26 votes

What is the polite way to tell taxi driver that he can stop here?

There are many options to choose from. Here are a few that are polite. "You can stop off here, if you like; I can easily walk to my apartment from this corner." Another option is: "My home ...
EWalker's user avatar
  • 605
25 votes

What to answer to "you're too kind"?

"You're too kind", as already mentioned, is hyperbole. They're simply complementing you for being kind and it's basically an alternative to or extension of "thank you". Most of the ...
NotThatGuy's user avatar
20 votes

Is "I know" appropriate or rude in conversation?

If you're strictly looking for a different word or phrase maybe try: "Yes, I've read/heard about that.". It implies some knowledge, but isn't quite so final like "I know [everything about this and don'...
Tobey's user avatar
  • 674
20 votes
Accepted

Is there a polite way to ask about one's ethnicity?

I (an Asian American) grew up in a rural part of Florida where I was asked that question pretty much anytime I had an encounter that lasted longer than 3 sentences. From my experience, just throwing ...
Michael Hoobler's user avatar
20 votes

Is it OK to respond to "thanks" with "sure"?

It depends on the person you are speaking to and the way you say it. I don't think sure is a common way to respond to thanks, because it's potentially ambiguous. It could be interpreted as a shortened ...
Micah Windsor's user avatar
19 votes

How to use the word ma'am?

In the East Alabama speech community I grew up in, ma'am was the feminine equivalent of sir addressed to men. It was conventional to use it to all women older than the speaker, and to younger women ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
18 votes

Is referring to people as "it" considered rude?

In English, you use it to refer to objects, not people. So it would be very rude and not grammatical - not only do you use a wrong pronoun gender, you also implicitly objectify that person. You ...
18 votes

Would saying "who is this" in normal tone be rude in an occasion not on the phone?

Who is this? is curt. Depending on the tone of voice/intonation, it could be perceived as rude. And who is this? makes it less curt. And who might this be? is also less curt and expresses interest. ...
TimR's user avatar
  • 124k
18 votes

What's a polite way of asking "who are you?" on the phone?

In my experience, "Who is this?" is generally perceived as more polite than "Who are you?" or similar. I don't have a good reason for it. There are other more-polite forms, as noted in the other ...
R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE's user avatar
18 votes

What's the polite way to say "I need to urinate"?

(Excuse me,) I need to use the toilet/bathroom/restroom. Exactly how that room is named depends on the continent. The commenters are right, toilet is most often used in British English, while ...
Glorfindel's user avatar
  • 14.8k
18 votes

Is there a polite way to ask about one's ethnicity?

First think: "Why do I need to know?" Just being curious is not a need to know. It is impolite to ask for personal information just to satisfy your curiosity. If you don't need to know, then don't ...
James K's user avatar
  • 219k
15 votes
Accepted

What are some polite ways to respond to the people who call your name but you don't know them

There are many ways to handle this situation, more than I could list. As with any language, if you are good with words you can think of new, clever expressions. Some common examples: Hi, I feel ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
14 votes

What's the polite way to say "I need to urinate"?

There is no polite way to bring the image into others' minds of your spraying out waste water from your privy parts. The polite way to excuse yourself is to say some variation on I need to go. or ...
lly's user avatar
  • 4,901
14 votes

What's the polite way to say "I need to urinate"?

I am very surprised that none of the answers or comments so far have mentioned the word "loo", as in "I need the loo"or "Where is the loo?". It is at least as polite as toilet. In addition, there is ...
JeremyC's user avatar
  • 5,668
14 votes

What is the polite way to tell taxi driver that he can stop here?

A similar question came up recently but in a restaurant setting. If you say: You can get me the bill now. that's rude because you are telling the waiter what to do. It's the same as saying: Go ...
CJ Dennis's user avatar
  • 4,022
13 votes

How to use the word ma'am?

For me, this can be a loaded question. Ma'am is often used in the military instead of "Sir", to a female of higher rank. Ma'am is used to note respect to a woman with a noble title. You would not ...
WRX's user avatar
  • 4,655
12 votes

Will you be my friend?

Speaking as a native of the US, both of your questions are grammatical but sound oddly childlike. There isn't really any way to explicitly say, "Can we be friends?" without it sounding weird. This is ...
mamster's user avatar
  • 1,231

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible