95

"Who should I say is calling?"


77

In the UK, black person is the usual way to describe someone of African or Caribbean ethnic background and I wouldn't expect it to be taken as offensive. Referring to someone as a black (as a noun) would be offensive. Referring to someone as the black guy could conceivably be interpreted as a little disrespectful if you might have been expected to call them ...


67

He is saying that you don't owe him thanks, he owes you thanks. He clearly regards you as the sort of student who makes teaching rewarding. He may even imply that he has learned from you, from the sorts of questions you have asked which made him think about things which he took for granted.


52

As a native speaker of Northeastern US English, I would normally only add please after a question if I was asking for a specific favor or for an object from the person I am questioning. For example: Can you pass me that wrench, please? Could you let me know when he arrives, please? But it is not used when asking simple factual questions, matters of ...


50

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 phone: Could you please tell me who I'm speaking with? May I ask who's calling? Would you mind telling who's talking?


48

I think the closest expression with the same meaning and very similar connotations would be the French expression: C'est la vie. meaning That's life. You can use the French phrase as is because it is famous enough to be understood in any English speaking country. Certainly there are some more possibilities to say it in a polite way as to avoid ...


35

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 other person. Other responses: Think nothing of it. Don't worry about it. It's ok. It's quite all right. Also, there's an Australian ...


34

"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 can do together, for example: Hey, let's go out and get something to eat sometime? I know this great restaurant. or Do you like noodles? I know this ...


34

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 departure. This will usually be understood sufficiently in context. There are of course, many euphemisms, some gender specific, some not, some considered more ...


33

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-laws do), but we definitely don't refer to people as it unless we are being extremely rude or condescending. Even then, this is something that would be said ...


31

I’m in Chicago and most of my team is in Paris, so this is a situation I have a lot of practice with! My primary recommendation is: reference the time of your audience. However, the key fact is: anything you say nicely is fine. Typical conversations I’ve had at 8 AM my time (CST), 3 PM their time (CET): Paris: Good morning! Chicago: Good morning! ...


31

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 would not know what it meant. You might use it to excuse yourself from an audience with the Queen, but for everyone else you should say "toilet". "Bathroom" ...


30

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 arm to hold the door open, and then holding the door while the person previously holding the door for you passes through. Protocol dictates that if a person ...


27

Both "dude" and "man" are INFORMAL. Whether or not they are disrespectful depends on whether you are expected to have a formal or informal relationship with the person you are addressing. If you have a familiar relationship already, calling them either term reinforces that familiarity. If I say to my friend "Check this out, man!" the subtext of the ...


26

First of all, this is always contracted "You're welcome" and is THE best response to thanks in any situation (NOT: you are, which would sound robotic) No problem is quite familiar and not as "social" as you're welcome. An even more familiar version of this is no sweat. Don't mention it is quite appropriate instead of you're welcome. If you went to ...


25

To answer the last part of your question – where someone told you that you should avoid using the term blackboard – there is a difference between a blackboard and a whiteboard; the two terms refer to different products. Blackboard vs. whiteboard A blackboard, also called a chalkboard, is usually black or dark green and is meant to be written on using ...


23

These words are not rude of themselves. Of course they might be part of a rude statement. How do I post a question on Stack Exchange? First off you need to register for an account. Nothing rude about that. How do I post a question on Stack Exchange? First off, you're a moron and no one is interested in your questions. That would be rude. ...


23

Please is for requests Please could you pass me that pencil? Or Could you get the door for me, please? Although note that both of these would be valid, if potentially impolite, without the "please". Not for questions How are you? Or Did your children enjoy your trip on the steam train?


22

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 in a "Is it cool if I ask you..." before you ask at least kind of tells me you don't think you're entitled to an answer, and is a solid way of being polite ...


21

It is no ruder or more courteous than 'First' or 'To begin with' or 'In the first place' or 'Let me start by saying'. They are all perhaps a little abrupt. It doesn't really matter which you use. What does matter is your tone of voice and other non-linguistic cues you provide.


21

Preferred terms African immigrant: If you know for a fact that the person was born in Africa and is now living in the UK, this is a safe term to use, as it frames the subject in terms of circumstances such as birthplace and residence, rather than race. Technically, it could also include non-black people who meet those criteria, though. Based on feedback, ...


20

A polite and reassuring way: "It could have been worse"


20

You could say this: I'm sorry I can't hear you. You're breaking up! From Macmillan Dictionary: break up 5 [intransitive] if the sound on a radio or mobile phone breaks up, you can no longer hear the person who is speaking on it. I can't hear you, you're breaking up.


19

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 should use he or she for men and women respectively. If you're looking for a gender-neutral pronoun, they is a commonly accepted option - although it's also slightly ...


18

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't want to discuss it further!]" But like many things concerning language this is heavily dependent on the context, especially your tone of voice and your ...


18

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 with whom the speaker was not on familiar terms. I myself use both ma'am and sir to everybody, including the people I work with and very young children, who ...


18

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. P.S. How these questions are perceived will depend on social cues and your demeanor when asking, such as whether you meet the gaze of the person you're asking ...


18

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 answers, but "Who is this?" is direct, reasonable, and unlikely to offend.


18

(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 Americans prefer restroom or bathroom. The phrase is not limited to urination: (Euphemism) to urinate or defecate. May I be excused to use the bathroom? I have to ...


18

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 ask. If you decide that for some reason you do actually need this information, then explain your reason and ask directly. If you ask for some personal ...


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