Learn how to say you disagree in smart and polite ways in English.
It is very common to argue or discuss opinions with your friends. This might be about what film you want to watch or what you want to eat for dinner. If you are worried about your English or you are scared your English friends will think you’re rude, you might find it difficult to give your opinion.
This week on our instagram @learnenglishontheinternet we gave you different phrases you can use in a conversation to agree or disagree with other people. Here we will give you an example conversation using the phrases and then we will talk about the language we have used to disagree with someone.
A: Helen, do you have any pets?
B: Not yet, but I’m getting a puppy soon!
A: Really, not a cat?
B: No, I think dogs are more fun than cats.
A: No way! Cat’s are so much fun! They lay in the sun all day and they chase mice and they cuddle with you on the couch and they…
B: Sorry to butt in but dogs cuddle on the couch too!
A: Sure, but what it all boils down to is that cats are just cooler than dogs.
B: Sorry Caitlin, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.
In our blog about introducing yourself, we talked about which phrases are common in different English speaking countries (England, Australia, America). There are more examples of this in our agree/disagree conversation. In the table, you can see which country uses the agree/disagree phrase more.
Generally, people from The U.S. are more direct and so use more direct language to disagree. English people are always worried about being rude to the other person, so they usually use a more indirect phrase. English people also apologise a lot (e.g. “ Sorry to interrupt…”).
In our conversation the two people talking know each other. So the conversation uses informal vocabulary. If you are disagreeing with someone at work, or in an email, or in an essay, you need to use more formal phrases.
The only phrase from this conversation that you can use in a formal situation is “we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one”. That phrase could be used in conversations at work. However, it is not formal enough for a written essay or academic writing. For these more formal situations, check our writing blog for tips.
Self-study is an important part of your journey to becoming a great English speaker. Even if you take regular lessons you will also need to practice at home and whenever you can.
Here are some resources to help your practice how to formally disagree in English.