Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you heard somebody say “be my guest” and wondered what exactly they meant?

Does it feel like this particular phrase may have multiple meanings in English?

If you feel unsure of how or when to use this then you’re not alone.

It’s one of those phrases that can have multiple meanings, so you want to know what you are talking about.

We’re going to look at this phrase, how it can be used, and even find some good alternatives for it as well.


Here’s a letter that probably expresses your thoughts on this phrase perfectly.


Hi girls,

I would like to ask a question not directly related to this one, if I may. I understand that the expression “be my guest” is a polite way to offer something to someone, such as room into the elevator or the remaining piece of cake, for example. However, watching some series on TV, it looks like it sounds as something like “it is up to you” or “do as you wish”. An example might be: “I have told you many times not do this, but you keep doing it. So, be my guest!” Have I got it right?

Thanks a lot for your time.

Sergio Rodrigues
São Luis(MA) – Brazil


Understanding The Meaning

When you look at the actual definition, there’s a lot to learn here.

This is a very dynamic phrase as you can see from the actual definition.

Consider the different definitions or meanings to help shed light on this phrase overall.

  1. It can be meant in a very friendly way, as if you are giving permission to somebody.
  • It’s like saying “do as you wish” but in a friendly and harmless way. Some may perceive it as being said with an attitude, but that’s not necessarily the intent. 
    • “Can I sit here? Sure, be my guest!”

2. The other way is that you are saying it by the true definition. There is no negative intention here, and it’s really more factual based.

  • Here you may be inviting somebody to do something or asking them along to an event.
    • “Please be my guest at the cocktail party on Friday.”


3. You say “be my guest” to someone to say that you are happy to let them do something unpleasant or difficult instead of you. There can certainly be a negative tone to this because it’s something distasteful to you in nature.

  • ” If you want to tell her the bad news, Maria, be my guest.”


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Alternatives To This Phrase

There are more natural ways to say a phrase like this.

Some might see the phrase “be my guest” as more of a negative.

Remember it’s all about tone of voice and things of that nature, but you do want to consider some good alternatives.

Here are some great examples to use.

  • Sure thing
    • “Can I see your phone?” Sure thing!
  • Absolutely
    • “Could I have a booth?”Absolutely!
  • Go for it
    •   “Do you mind if I finish the movie while you’re away?” Go for it!
  • That’s on you
    • “I don’t feel like going to her speech. It’s gonna be like 3 hours, but if you wanna go , that’s on you.”
  • That’s your decision
    • “It’s not a good idea to tell him you want to go out again if you don’t like him, but…that’s your decision.”
  • That’s your prerogative
    • “Why can’t we go to the beach tomorrow? It’s going to be storming all day! But hey, if you wanna get wet, that’s your prerogative.”

Always remember that intonation and tone of voice make all the difference in the world here.



There can be many implications with one phrase.

This is one great example of that to consider. 

It’s important to remember the context and the intonation when you are using this phrase.

It’s also a good idea to have some alternatives to use as well.

Once you know the phrase and some alternatives, you can have fun using them in conversation–this is a great way to make connections!


If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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