5 little words that make life better in the UK
It’s true – people in the UK really do say ‘sorry’ all the time. If one person bumps into another by accident, they both say ‘sorry’. The person who made the mistake is apologising. The other says ‘sorry’ and means ‘no problem’ or ‘nothing to worry about’.
When you’re in the UK, notice how often strangers say ‘sorry’ to each other.
In a shop you can count the number of times a customer and a shop assistant say ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you’ to each other. It shows that the buyer respects the person working in the shop and does not see him or her as a servant.
‘Please’ is often used at the end of a brief request to show politeness.
For example, at a railways station: ‘A single ticket to Birmingham Central, please.’
‘Could’ and ‘Would’
Requests and questions beginning with ‘Could’ and ‘Would’ express politeness and show that the person asking is not making a demand. It is usually used with people we don’t know well, but can also be used with friends who are doing us a favour or being especially helpful.
Could you pick me up from the station tomorrow afternoon?
Would you be able to give me a lift to town on Saturday?