australian culture and customs

find out how australians do things, how we see the world and the world sees us

please, thank you, excuse me, sorry

word clouds for kids from ABCya!.com

word clouds for kids from ABCya!.com

“please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry! please, thank you, excuse me, sorry!”

My friend told me today that she felt a little insulted when some friends from Butan were mocking Australians for saying sorry every time they did anything.  I then lightly bumped into her leg under the table we were having lunch at and automatically said…sorry.  After lunch we bumped arms while walking along beside each other and she said sorry to me.  Normally I would have said sorry too, but having just talked about how we say sorry all the time in Australia and how people from other countries think it’s pretty silly, I didn’t! She pretended to be offended and we had a bit of a giggle about it.

The fact is though that in Australia you could say that we use the words, please, thank you, excuse me and sorry more than anywhere else and, frankly, if you do not do the same here, we will think that you are rather rude.  So, excuse me, is that what you want?! Thank you for your attention and please follow my advice. Sorry if I have gone on too long.

When to say:


  • whenever you want someone to do something for you or give something to you (in a shop, for example). When I go to the shop and the cashier doesn’t say please when telling me how much I have to pay, I must say, I get rather offended.

thank you (please note that this is TWO words!)

  • if someone does something for you or gives something to you, you say thanks (or thank you). If my cashier down at the shops fails to thank me for my payment, I will think they are rude and/or that their parents perhaps could have taught them manners a little more successfully.

excuse me

  • when you want to get someone’s attention (the waiter at a restaurant, for example) – “excuse me, may I have the menu, please?”
  • when you pass in front of someone in the cinema or in a crowd – simply say, “excuse me”
  • when you sneeze – same as above
  • if you break wind or burp (but please try your hardest not to!) – just, “excuse me”
  • if you interrupt a conversation or other activity – “excuse me, sorry for interrupting…”
  • when you want someone to repeat something you haven’t heard properly – “excuse me, could you repeat that, please?”
  • if someone has done something very rude and you want them to know you are offended – “EXCUSE ME!”


  • to show that you feel bad about something that you have done and take responsibility for it
  • if you touch someone by accident, even just brush their arm or touch their leg in the bus – just say, “sorry”
  • if you get in someone’s way by accident – “sorry”
  • if you ask them to repeat something – “sorry, could you repeat that, please?”

With thanks to Word Clouds for Kids from for use of their word cloud application

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2013 by in etiquette and customs, language and slang, work and business and tagged , , , , , , , . is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

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