British politeness - Ps, Qs and Sorries

Are the Brits as polite as they seem?

Please, thank you and sorry


It is very important to have impeccable social skills, especially when attempting to make a good impression on people. In the UK, it is considered polite to use the expressions 'Please', 'Thank you' and 'Sorry'.


If this British method of politeness is not used, you could come across as rude in the eyes of the Brits.


Therefore, make sure to use these expression, and do not worry about overusing them. The worst scenario is that people may think you are a sweetheart and charming.


What are the words that you are most likely to hear in Britain, at least 100 times a day?


1. Please


Please Giphy


2. Thank you


Thank you Giphy


3. Sorry


Sorry Giphy


The Ps and Qs rules


One of the things that rules British behaviour are ' Ps and Qs.'


Quick note: P is for Please, and Q is for Thank you.


However, it is important to note that, as Kate Fox explains in her book Watching the English: The Hidden rules of English Behaviours, there is nothing warm or friendly about these Ps and Qs.


It’s fundamental to remember that the Ps and Qs are British rules, and it does not mean that all the British are all "good-natured, generous, kind-hearted people". 


rules of politeness It's easy to follow British rules of politeness
Pixabay / Succo


However, it is true that they religiously follow these rules, particularly when interacting with strangers.


Therefore, here is a basic guide for when you need to say please and thank you in Britain.


First of all, if you ask someone to do something, anything, even asking to pass the salt at the table, you should say please.


And whenever someone does something for you (even it is her/his duty to do so) you should say thank you.


Thank you examples:


When you are getting out of the taxi, you always have to say thank you.


You should say thank you when the waiter is serving your food.


Say thank you when the shopkeeper gives your change.


Remember: Never say NO, but say no thank you.


Please examples:


If you are in a taxi and you ask the driver to take you somewhere, you should say please.


When ordering food from the waiter, you should say please.


If someone is offering you something that you want, you should say yes please.


Saying sorry


British, sorry, credit to Pixabay It's very rare that a Brit is 'sorry'
Pixabay / Kapas65


‘Sorry’, is one of the most over-used word in the United Kingdom.


A recent survey, found that the average Brit says ‘sorry’ around eight times a day, and that a single person can apologise up to 20 times a day.


Further research confirms that Brits can say sorry up to 1.9 million times during their lifetime.


But doesn’t necessarily mean indicate that they are feeling guilty for something.


But where this word comes from?


The word 'sorry' comes from the Old English ‘sarig’ meaning "distressed, grieved or full of sorrow". However, nowadays the modern Brit uses it more casually.


When to use the word ‘sorry’:


Situation: if you bump into someone you will both end up saying sorry. Therefore, never say "It’s OK".


If you accidently brush against someone in a very busy train, or even ifyou haven’t touch anyone, you will have to say sorry. And the other person will probably apologise too.


If you haven’t heard what the other person has said: you say sorry.


If you ask a question, you begin it with sorry.


If you want to complain you begin the sentence with sorry. "Sorry, but I found a hair in my dish".



Header image : Pixabay / Ryan McGuire


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