I reshaped the text „How to be polite in English“ and tailored it for my students for every level of English. It’s always good to know the British manners within my English course. Students appreciated it and laughed.
How to be polite in English
Perhaps the most lasting stereotype of the British is that they are extremely polite and never really say what they mean. A common complaint from overseas is that Brits are incapable of expressing their feelings directly, particularly when those feelings are negative or may cause offence. Moreover, it often seems that polite phrases in English are used by Brits to convey hidden meanings, which are only intelligible to their compatriots.
However this causes many problems to foreigners who misinterpret the polite words
used by Brits, both in personal and business situations. Many of the people including the native speakers from the USA say that their interactions with British people lead them to doubt their proficiency in the English language because they are simply confused!
Indeed, this insistence upon hiding negative feelings or criticism behind seemingly positive polite expressions has caused so many difficulties abroad. Most of the expressions can be found in everyday conversation in Britain and as such may prove very useful.
|What the British say||What the British mean||What others understand|
|I hear what you say||I disagree and don’t want to discuss it further||He accepts my point of view|
|With the greatest respect||You are an idiot||He is listening to me|
|Quite good||A bit disappointing||Quite good|
|I was a bit disappointed||I am annoyed that…||It doesn’t really matter|
|Very interesting||That is clearly nonsense||They are impressed|
|I’ll bear it in mind||I’ve forgotten it already||They will probably do it|
|I am sure it’s my fault||It’s your fault||Why do they think it was their fault?|
|You must come for dinner||It’s not an invitation. I’m just being polite.||I will get an invitation soon.|
|I almost agree||I don’t agree at all||We will make an agreement|
|I only have a few minor comments||Please rewrite it completely||He has found a few typos|
|That is a very brave proposal||You are insane||He thinks I have courage|
|That’s not bad||That’s good||That’s poor|