Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you ever worry that you’re going to come off as rude in English?

Maybe you are about to say something and it feels kind of direct?

You’re not sure how the person is going to react.

What do you do in that case?

Today we’ll answer this question to show you how to build more and better English connections with natives.


“A lot of the times I sound not very nice “a bit rude” without aiming to, and that is because my English is not so good, but I do always get embarrassed about it, because if it was a one line conversation with the girl/guy on the cashier he/she wouldn’t be able to realize that I sound a bit rude because english isn’t my native language, any suggestions to get over such a problem? Thanks a lot.”



Good question!

You don’t really have the option to put in a line at the beginning to make sure you don’t sound rude because your exchange is quick.

You can’t go around always starting every sentence by saying, “I hope this doesn’t sound rude.”

I like the question because this listener has the sense to know that he does sound or might sound rude.

Self awareness is the key to success when you want to build CONNECTION!


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This happens a lot and it’s okay:

So this has happened on this show before.

We get questions and sometimes a listener might say something that does seem rude without knowing it.

Please don’t stop sending in your questions.

We get it and it’s okay. We are teachers and we are used to it.

Last week someone said in an email about something we said on an episode, “it’s complete nonsense.”

If a native said that to me I would be really offended.

We might have commented on that during that episode and mentioned that it was rude.

The word “non-sense” doesn’t just mean that something doesn’t make sense.

It also means that the thing is stupid and ridiculous.

So this might have been a translation that our listener made from her native language.

However, it’s okay! We were still happy to receive the question from the listener and to answer the question.


Tips to keep in mind:

Natives will gve you the benefit of the doubt.

There are some ways to reduce the impact of the words that you use if they seem like they might be rude to natives.

Try this:

  • First, listen to natives all of the time: Use podcasts, native podcasts, movies, music and start using their language chunks.
  •  Don’t translate: Translation is where we get into trouble. A direct translation from your language could sound like it makes sense but could have a subtler meaning in English and could come off as very rude even if you don’t realize it.
  •  Tone of voice: Try to sound friendly and put some life into your tone of voice.
  • Use friendly nonverbals:  Open your arms, smile, make eye contact.
  • Monitor their reactions: Keep an eye on how natives react to what you are saying both verbally and nonverbally.
  • You are going to mess up: At some point you are going to sound rude and not know it. Get used to it. Get ready for it. Don’t take it too seriously. It takes a thick skin to learn a new language.


Phrases to prevent sounding rude:

If you are in a slightly more substantial conversation then you can say something if what you are about to say might sound rude.

Try these:

  • “I hope this doesn’t come off as rude…”
  • “I hope this doesn’t sound too blunt…”
  • “I don’t want this to come off the wrong way but….”
  • “I hope this doesn’t come off the wrong way…”


What questions do you have today?

Let us know in the comments below.

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