The English language is a polite language. We like to sugarcoat things. We don’t like to be direct. We don’t like to say no or to criticize. However, every native English speaker knows that kind words and a smile aren’t always the true meaning. We aren’t being fake; we just have deeply instilled etiquette that prevents us from using direct language. So it is important to know the true meaning of these english phrases. And for this our north american MaDI student helped us to understand what exactly they mean when we say the phrases.

The true meaning of these phrases:

  1. I don’t mind – I completely mind
  2. It’s ok – it is not ok
  3. Only if you’re making one for you /not if it’s any trouble– yes please feed me (in response to would you like some food/drinks/snacks – it is impolite to immediately accept)
  4. I didn’t see you there! – I was desperately trying to avoid you
  5. Let’s agree to disagree – you are wrong but I can tell logic is beyond you and I’m tired
  6. Don’t be alarmed – uhoh be afraid
  7. That’s a very good question – I have no idea what the answer is but don’t want to look dumb
  8. We should (get together/have dinner/do something) sometime – we will never do this
  9. Don’t worry it’s probably my fault – it’s absolutely your fault
  10. It was working a moment ago – you broke it
  11. We must have had a miscommunication – you are wrong
  12. Very interesting – what you’re saying is stupid
  13. I’m sorry you feel that way – again you’re wrong and it’s not my problem
  14. Well it can’t hurt I suppose – you’re about to make a huge mistake
  15. It was ok but I wouldn’t (do/try/order) it again – it was terrible
  16. It could be worse – I could not be worse
  17. Anyways, it was lovely to meet you- please leave
  18. I’m fine – I’m not fine
  19. You look like you had fun last night – you look like a mess
  20. I’m probably not explaining it well – I am explaining it perfectly you just can’t understand


Don’t be offended every time you hear these. It’s just how we show our disagreement without being rude and an extra word or preposition can change the entire meaning. For example, ‘I’m fine’ means ‘I’m not fine’, but ‘no, no I’m fine’ usually means ‘I’m fine.’ Good luck deciphering the code.