The English We Speak

Intermediate level

Excuse me!

Episode 171030 / 30 Oct 2017

[Images: Getty Images]

Summary

Rob keeps saying 'excuse me' but does he mean the same thing every time? Find out how these two English words 'excuse me' can have many different meanings and see how many examples Feifei can listen to before she has to make her excuses and go!

Transcript

Feifei
Hello and welcome to The English We Speak with me, Feifei and…

Rob
…and me, Rob. Now excuse me Feifei, I just need to reach over and get a tissue before I….. SNEEZE!  Oh excuse me!

Feifei
Are you getting a cold?

Rob
Oh excuse me, I've just got to get this.  Hi mum, I've told you not to call me at work. I'll call you tonight. OK? Bye. Sorry about that.

Feifei
Err Rob, are you going to do any work?

Rob
Excuse me! I am working very hard to explain today's piece of authentic English.

Feifei
Excuse me? Say that again.

Rob
Yes – that's it – our phrase today is two words with many different meanings – 'excuse me'.

Feifei
I see – so when you sneeze or make a rude noise you can apologise by saying 'excuse me!'

Rob
Exactly. And when I wanted you to move so that I could reach for the tissues, I said 'excuse me' to politely ask you to move so that I could reach them. A bit like this…

Example
Excuse me, could you move down the bus please so that I can get on. Thanks!

Feifei
And what about that phone call?

Rob
Ah yes, I said 'excuse me' as a polite way of apologising for the interruption.

Feifei
So you were being polite and then you were being rude when you said 'excuse me!' 

Rob
I was expressing shock and disbelief that you thought I wasn't working. A bit like this…

Example
Excuse me! How can you say I don't do any housework – I cleaned the bathroom yesterday.

Rob
And then you said 'excuse me?' because you didn't understand what I said earlier – as usual – and you wanted me to repeat it.

Feifei
Excuse me! That's not fair. Any other uses?

Rob
Yes. Here's another one…

Example
Excuse me, do you know the way to the railway station?

Feifei
OK, that's 'excuse me' to get someone's attention. Well Rob, now I've got your attention, you'll have to 'excuse me' because I've got to go.

Rob
A very good use of 'excuse me' Feifei – politely saying you have to go. So, can you think of any more…? Feifei? Feifei? Oh she really has gone.

Rob
Bye.