The Most Important English Lesson of All – Polite English   Leave a comment

Impolite English Example –

At the store at the checkout stand (cashier)…

Laurie: Autumn,  put these four items in one bag.

Autumn: Sure.

Autumn: Do you want this in the bag, too?

Laurie: Yes.

Bagger: Would you like help out to your car?

Laurie: No.

Before you read on, do you see why I was very impolite at the store?  What words are missing?  Can you think of how this could be said in a polite manner.  Please take a moment to consider this, because it is very important to how people who speak English will perceive you.  Even if I had said all of this in a pleasant tone of voice, these requests and responses would have been considered rude and demanding.  Sadly, this is how most of my students sound.  They have not learned polite English.

Polite English Example –

At the store at the checkout stand (cashier)…

Laurie: Autumn, would you please put these four items in one bag?

Autumn: Sure.

Laurie: Thank you.

Autumn: Do you want this in the bag, too?

Laurie: Yes, everything that needs to be refrigerated. I really appreciate that.

Bagger: Would you like help out to your car?

Laurie: No, thanks.

I highlighted the words that make requests of others polite.  Can you see the interaction between using the words “please” and “could you please” or “would you please” when you are making a request? Can you see the interaction with the words “thank you” and “I really appreciate that?”

This is a typical interaction in English. The use of “please” and “thank you” is not in any way exaggerated. When these words are left out, the speaker (or person making a request or receiving a service) appears rude,  demanding, and uncivilized. These little courtesies demonstrate to each other that we appreciate what they are doing for us. I imagine that there are the same type of words used in the Japanese language, but I do not know.

For many of my students, when they have downloaded a file from my file sharing area, they are just now learning to say, “Yes, I have it,” instead of “Yes, I have.” Truly, though, polite speakers of English, after receiving the file, would say, “Thanks, I have it,” or “Thanks, I’ve got it.” This last sentence is a bit less formal. Saying “please” and “thank you” takes only a slight moment more, but makes others feel appreciated. Of course, we would only want to say it sincerely (from our heart). If we cannot say it sincerely, then we should not say it, because that would be extremely rude.

I am sure that in Japanese, there are similar types of words used. It is no different in English.

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Posted February 1, 2013 by laurieflood

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