What Brits say vs what they actually mean

What the British say VS what they actually mean

This article about what Brits say vs what they actually mean was updated by the Great British Mag team on 27 January 2021.

Brits take etiquette seriously. They often don’t say what they are thinking because they don’t want to be rude. Instead, they say something which sounds a bit more positive. But don’t be fooled! These common phrases mean the opposite of what you think they mean.

What Brits sayWhat you think they meanWhat they actually mean
I hear what you sayThey accept my point of viewI totally disagree and do not want to discuss this further
With the greatest respectThey’re listening to meThis is stupid
I almost agreeThey’re not far from agreementI do not agree at all
That’s not badThat’s poorThat’s good
Quite goodVery goodNot very good
Very interestingWow, they’re impressed with what I’m sayingBoy, this person is boring and talking nonsense
Incidentally/by the wayThat’s not importantThat’s the main point
I’m sure it’s my faultThey think it’s their faultThis is your fault
I only have a few minor commentsThere’s no major issuePlease redo the whole thing
You must come to dinnerThey want me to comeThis is not an invitation; I’m just being polite
SorryThey’re sorry, but for what?I simply want to ask a question
I might join you laterThey might be coming laterThere’s no chance that I’m coming out
I’ll bear it in mindThey’ll consider my suggestionThere’s no way I’m doing that
How are you?They want to know how I’m doingPlease don’t tell me your life story

You may also want to read

Top 10 British etiquette tips

Popular English words that get shortened

10 things you may not know about the UK