Clip by Larisa School of Language on Youtube. Thanks for sharing.
Disagreement is a normal and important part of everyday life, both at work and in our social lives. But how do you sound when you disagree? Some of our students are surprised when we tell them that their style of disagreement is too strong or comes across as rude.
But don’t worry! There are a few neat phrases that you can include in your repertoire to sound more polite when you disagree.
I disagree with you.
What do you think? Appropriate? Natural? Not really. In English we find this phrase too strong and it’s rarely used by native speakers. However, if we do want to express a strong disagreement, we might soften the phrase by apologising first:
I’m afraid I disagree with you there.
I’m sorry, I disagree with you there.
Another way of slightly softening the statement is to start with ‘I have to say’:
I have to say, I disagree with you there.
More often than not, though, native speakers prefer to use softer statements to disagree. A common way of doing this is to use the phrase ‘I’m not sure…’ or something similar.
I’m not sure I agree with you there.
I’m not sure that’s always true.
I’m not convinced that’s the case.
The above statements might sound a bit uncertain but actually they mean ‘I don’t agree.’ It’s just gentler way of putting it.
In a similar way, people may disagree with a statement by seeming to ask a question:
Statement: In any case, women are better at these sorts of tasks than men.
Response 1: Is that really true? In my experience, men are just as good.
Response 2: Is that always the case? I know plenty of men who are just as good as women.
Response 3: Do you think so? I’m not so sure that’s the case.
One final way of politely disagreeing (and my personal favourite) is to start by saying that you understand or accept that part of what they are saying is true. You may then go on to say exactly what it is that you disagree with:
I take your point – she’s a very experienced teacher, but I’m afraid I don’t think she’s right for this particular job.
I do understand what you’re saying. I just don’t think we have the resources to do this.
I hear what you’re saying – the problem needs fixing. I just don’t think now is the time to do it.
These useful techniques came from Cambridge Dictionaries online where you can find lots of useful tips about being softer when you speak.