How to Disagree in English and Make Friends in the Process

Discussions in which you have a different opinion than your companions happen all the time, including at school and work. Learning how to disagree politely in English will help you keep your friends and make new ones.

Which of the following statements do you think is more respectful?

A.) I am afraid that I disagree with you. B.) You are so wrong.

If you said that A is correct, you are right. Using “I am afraid” is a polite way to introduce a negative statement in many social situations.

“I Am Afraid” Alternatives

You could also say the following statements if you disagree with someone:

  • I am afraid that is incorrect.
  • I am afraid that you are mistaken.
  • I am afraid your information is wrong.

Strong Disagreement

If you want to disagree strongly with someone, you can say the following:

  • I totally disagree with you.
  • I’d say the exact opposite.

When You Partially Agree

Sometimes you might agree with some of what a person says, but not all of it. Try one of the following statements the next time you are in such a situation:

  • Although/while I agree it is true to say that. . .
  • Although/while I agree it is fair to say that. . .
  • Although/while I agree that. . .
  • Not necessarily.
  • That is not always true.
  • That is not always the case.
  • I don’t know about that.

Attitude

The preceding arguments tell you how to disagree, but how do you begin your disagreement?

  • Could I speak for a minute, please?
  • Sorry to interrupt you, but I would like to say something please.
  • I would like to add something here please.

The most important thing to remember when you are disagreeing with someone, and this is perhaps the same for most languages, is your body language, facial expressions and your tone of voice. A calm demeanor (attitude) is your best friend when you want to respectfully disagree with someone.

Repeating What You Have Heard

In your English classes, you likely summarized what you read at some point to make sure you understood it. Retelling what you have heard is also a useful skill in disagreeing. When you demonstrate to someone that you have heard what they say and that you understand their arguments, the other person is more likely to listen to you.

Listen carefully to the other person without interrupting, if possible, and then summarize what he or she said before you begin your disagreement. You could say:

  • I heard you say. . .Is that right/correct?
  • Tell me if I get this right. I heard you say. . .

The other person may correct your retelling to be sure that you really understand what he or she said. Acknowledge any changes he or she makes by saying, “Okay. I understand.” Then begin your disagreement.

What Not to Say

Here are some expressions that you should not use when you disagree with someone:

  • Hang on!
  • Well, that’s stupid!
  • Where did you get that idea?
  • No way.
  • That’s crazy/nonsense/rubbish!
  • Be quiet while I finish.
  • What planet are you from?

Any sort of statement that is more of an insult than simply disagreeing is likely to make other people defensive (feel that you are being rude).

The next time you are in a business meeting or academic discussion, try using one or more of the polite expressions listed here. Stay calm and polite. If you can keep the discussion from turning into an argument, you will have succeeded.

References:

English Club: Expressions for Agreeing and Disagreeing http://www.englishclub.com/speaking/agreeing-disagreeing-expressions.htm

BBC Learning English: How to. . .Disagreeing http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1756_how_to_discuss/page4.shtml

Discussions in which you have a different opinion than your companions happen all the time, including at school and work. Learning how to disagree politely in English will help you keep your friends and make new ones.

Which of the following statements do you think is more respectful?

A.) I am afraid that I disagree with you. B.) You are so wrong.

If you said that A is correct, you are right. Using “I am afraid” is a polite way to introduce a negative statement in many social situations.

“I Am Afraid” Alternatives

You could also say the following statements if you disagree with someone:

  • I am afraid that is incorrect.
  • I am afraid that you are mistaken.
  • I am afraid your information is wrong.

Strong Disagreement

If you want to disagree strongly with someone, you can say the following:

  • I totally disagree with you.
  • I’d say the exact opposite.

When You Partially Agree

Sometimes you might agree with some of what a person says, but not all of it. Try one of the following statements the next time you are in such a situation:

  • Although/while I agree it is true to say that. . .
  • Although/while I agree it is fair to say that. . .
  • Although/while I agree that. . .
  • Not necessarily.
  • That is not always true.
  • That is not always the case.
  • I don’t know about that.

Attitude

The preceding arguments tell you how to disagree, but how do you begin your disagreement?

  • Could I speak for a minute, please?
  • Sorry to interrupt you, but I would like to say something please.
  • I would like to add something here please.

The most important thing to remember when you are disagreeing with someone, and this is perhaps the same for most languages, is your body language, facial expressions and your tone of voice. A calm demeanor (attitude) is your best friend when you want to respectfully disagree with someone.

Repeating What You Have Heard

In your English classes, you likely summarized what you read at some point to make sure you understood it. Retelling what you have heard is also a useful skill in disagreeing. When you demonstrate to someone that you have heard what they say and that you understand their arguments, the other person is more likely to listen to you.

Listen carefully to the other person without interrupting, if possible, and then summarize what he or she said before you begin your disagreement. You could say:

  • I heard you say. . .Is that right/correct?
  • Tell me if I get this right. I heard you say. . .

The other person may correct your retelling to be sure that you really understand what he or she said. Acknowledge any changes he or she makes by saying, “Okay. I understand.” Then begin your disagreement.

What Not to Say

Here are some expressions that you should not use when you disagree with someone:

  • Hang on!
  • Well, that’s stupid!
  • Where did you get that idea?
  • No way.
  • That’s crazy/nonsense/rubbish!
  • Be quiet while I finish.
  • What planet are you from?

Any sort of statement that is more of an insult than simply disagreeing is likely to make other people defensive (feel that you are being rude).

The next time you are in a business meeting or academic discussion, try using one or more of the polite expressions listed here. Stay calm and polite. If you can keep the discussion from turning into an argument, you will have succeeded.

References:

English Club: Expressions for Agreeing and Disagreeing http://www.englishclub.com/speaking/agreeing-disagreeing-expressions.htm

BBC Learning English: How to. . .Disagreeing http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1756_how_to_discuss/page4.shtml

Discussions in which you have a different opinion than your companions happen all the time, including at school and work. Learning how to disagree politely in English will help you keep your friends and make new ones.

Which of the following statements do you think is more respectful?

A.) I am afraid that I disagree with you. B.) You are so wrong.

If you said that A is correct, you are right. Using “I am afraid” is a polite way to introduce a negative statement in many social situations.

“I Am Afraid” Alternatives

You could also say the following statements if you disagree with someone:

  • I am afraid that is incorrect.
  • I am afraid that you are mistaken.
  • I am afraid your information is wrong.

Strong Disagreement

If you want to disagree strongly with someone, you can say the following:

  • I totally disagree with you.
  • I’d say the exact opposite.

When You Partially Agree

Sometimes you might agree with some of what a person says, but not all of it. Try one of the following statements the next time you are in such a situation:

  • Although/while I agree it is true to say that. . .
  • Although/while I agree it is fair to say that. . .
  • Although/while I agree that. . .
  • Not necessarily.
  • That is not always true.
  • That is not always the case.
  • I don’t know about that.

Attitude

The preceding arguments tell you how to disagree, but how do you begin your disagreement?

  • Could I speak for a minute, please?
  • Sorry to interrupt you, but I would like to say something please.
  • I would like to add something here please.

The most important thing to remember when you are disagreeing with someone, and this is perhaps the same for most languages, is your body language, facial expressions and your tone of voice. A calm demeanor (attitude) is your best friend when you want to respectfully disagree with someone.

Repeating What You Have Heard

In your English classes, you likely summarized what you read at some point to make sure you understood it. Retelling what you have heard is also a useful skill in disagreeing. When you demonstrate to someone that you have heard what they say and that you understand their arguments, the other person is more likely to listen to you.

Listen carefully to the other person without interrupting, if possible, and then summarize what he or she said before you begin your disagreement. You could say:

  • I heard you say. . .Is that right/correct?
  • Tell me if I get this right. I heard you say. . .

The other person may correct your retelling to be sure that you really understand what he or she said. Acknowledge any changes he or she makes by saying, “Okay. I understand.” Then begin your disagreement.

What Not to Say

Here are some expressions that you should not use when you disagree with someone:

  • Hang on!
  • Well, that’s stupid!
  • Where did you get that idea?
  • No way.
  • That’s crazy/nonsense/rubbish!
  • Be quiet while I finish.
  • What planet are you from?

Any sort of statement that is more of an insult than simply disagreeing is likely to make other people defensive (feel that you are being rude).

The next time you are in a business meeting or academic discussion, try using one or more of the polite expressions listed here. Stay calm and polite. If you can keep the discussion from turning into an argument, you will have succeeded.

References:

English Club: Expressions for Agreeing and Disagreeing http://www.englishclub.com/speaking/agreeing-disagreeing-expressions.htm

BBC Learning English: How to. . .Disagreeing http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1756_how_to_discuss/page4.shtml

Discussions in which you have a different opinion than your companions happen all the time, including at school and work. Learning how to disagree politely in English will help you keep your friends and make new ones.

Which of the following statements do you think is more respectful?

A.) I am afraid that I disagree with you. B.) You are so wrong.

If you said that A is correct, you are right. Using “I am afraid” is a polite way to introduce a negative statement in many social situations.

“I Am Afraid” Alternatives

You could also say the following statements if you disagree with someone:

  • I am afraid that is incorrect.
  • I am afraid that you are mistaken.
  • I am afraid your information is wrong.

Strong Disagreement

If you want to disagree strongly with someone, you can say the following:

  • I totally disagree with you.
  • I’d say the exact opposite.

When You Partially Agree

Sometimes you might agree with some of what a person says, but not all of it. Try one of the following statements the next time you are in such a situation:

  • Although/while I agree it is true to say that. . .
  • Although/while I agree it is fair to say that. . .
  • Although/while I agree that. . .
  • Not necessarily.
  • That is not always true.
  • That is not always the case.
  • I don’t know about that.

Attitude

The preceding arguments tell you how to disagree, but how do you begin your disagreement?

  • Could I speak for a minute, please?
  • Sorry to interrupt you, but I would like to say something please.
  • I would like to add something here please.

The most important thing to remember when you are disagreeing with someone, and this is perhaps the same for most languages, is your body language, facial expressions and your tone of voice. A calm demeanor (attitude) is your best friend when you want to respectfully disagree with someone.

Repeating What You Have Heard

In your English classes, you likely summarized what you read at some point to make sure you understood it. Retelling what you have heard is also a useful skill in disagreeing. When you demonstrate to someone that you have heard what they say and that you understand their arguments, the other person is more likely to listen to you.

Listen carefully to the other person without interrupting, if possible, and then summarize what he or she said before you begin your disagreement. You could say:

  • I heard you say. . .Is that right/correct?
  • Tell me if I get this right. I heard you say. . .

The other person may correct your retelling to be sure that you really understand what he or she said. Acknowledge any changes he or she makes by saying, “Okay. I understand.” Then begin your disagreement.

What Not to Say

Here are some expressions that you should not use when you disagree with someone:

  • Hang on!
  • Well, that’s stupid!
  • Where did you get that idea?
  • No way.
  • That’s crazy/nonsense/rubbish!
  • Be quiet while I finish.
  • What planet are you from?

Any sort of statement that is more of an insult than simply disagreeing is likely to make other people defensive (feel that you are being rude).

The next time you are in a business meeting or academic discussion, try using one or more of the polite expressions listed here. Stay calm and polite. If you can keep the discussion from turning into an argument, you will have succeeded.

References:

English Club: Expressions for Agreeing and Disagreeing http://www.englishclub.com/speaking/agreeing-disagreeing-expressions.htm

BBC Learning English: How to. . .Disagreeing http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1756_how_to_discuss/page4.shtml

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