How to properly refer to a person who had changed their name in the past tense?

A person changed her name from A to B. “My 6th grade English teacher was A” sounds right, but when I alter the sentence structure to “B was my 6th grade English teacher” it sounds right. These are just 2 variations of the same sentence, so why does the order make referring to the person … Read more

Using “Would you like” vs “Do you want” between friends

Does it sound normal or overly polite to use “Would you like” between friends, for example “Hey Bob, would you like to play chess with me?” Answer Not necessarily. The difference in formality between would you like and do you want stems from the difference in timeframe. Do you want is immediate, refers to right … Read more

“Can I” vs “May I” in restaurant setting when ordering

A while back, while we were getting fast food, my friend commented on my usage of “can” versus “may” when asking to take my order. I said: Can I have a ……. and my friend argued you’re supposed to say May I have a ……. Although I had never thought much about it, and at … Read more

Is it impolite to say hello to a doctor as “Hi, First Name”?

I’m based in Canada and I’m not a native English speaker. Is it impolite to call doctors and dentists by their first name instead of “Dr. Last Name” when answering a phone call? Answer Thirty years ago, ‘Hi, First Name’ addressed to a medical doctor (or, for that matter, anybody else that one does not … Read more

Global socially acceptable way of acknowledging that I’m being a “pedantic w****r”?

I’m Australian and would not hesitate to call myself a “pedantic wanker” in public (because, well… I often am!). There is a very small chance that someone (most likely elderly or particularly conservative) may be offended. IMO though, it’s quite socially acceptable, and unless you are in a particularly formal setting, the risk of it … Read more

“Yes sir” usage

I have heard “Yes, sir.” used by a client or by the older participant in a conversation and it seems to me that this goes against the common usage. What is the connotation of “Yes, sir.” in a contemporary context, used between peers? Answer When used between peers, “yes, sir” has multiple connotations that depend … Read more

Shoud I use a new line after Hi (someone’s name) in e-mail?

In an e-mail, suppose we start with Hi John. Should I follow with Hi John, some content (i) or Hi John, some content (ii) Is there any etiquette behind choice (i) vs (ii)? Answer You should use two new lines, so that there is a blank line between the “Hi John,” and the beginning of … Read more