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I would like to know why there seems to be a sense of inappropriateness when one says, "excuse me" to someone, especially when the person being told is a woman. In my native Spanish and in the particular culture I was raised, it is considered a very polite way to say "move out of the way", and the person who uses "excuse me" is considered polite and refined. However, in American English, I have noticed, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Any comments about this topic?

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I would like to know why there seems to be a sense of inappropriateness when one says, "excuse me" to someone, especially when the person being told is a woman. In my native Spanish and in the particular culture I was raised, it is considered a very polite way to say "move out of the way", and the person who uses "excuse me" is considered polite and refined. However, in American English, I have noticed, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Any comments about this topic?

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I've spent a lot of time visiting the USA, and I have never noticed the concerns you are expressing about this phrase.

Consider this definition from an American dictionary.

excuse me

Excuse me is used as a polite way of starting to say something. It can be used when you are interrupting someone, trying to get someone's attention, or disagreeing with someone.
  • Excuse me, but may I say something?
  • Excuse me, but do you mind if I shut the window?
  • Excuse me, do you know where I can find Maple Street?
  • Excuse me, but I don't think those figures are entirely accurate.
◊ It is also used as a polite apology for a minor fault or offense, such as laughing, coughing, or burping, and, in U.S. English, for getting in someone's way or bumping into someone.
  • Oh, excuse me. [=pardon me, I beg your pardon] I didn't notice you standing there.
◊ The phrase is also used, especially in U.S. English, as a polite way of asking someone to repeat something.
  • Excuse me? [=pardon me?; I beg your pardon?] I didn't hear the last part of what you were saying.
◊ In informal use, excuse me is often used in an annoyed way when someone has suggested that you have done something wrong and you do not feel that you have.
  • “You were supposed to be home an hour ago.” “Well, excuse me! I had to fix a flat tire.”
http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/excuse Clive
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apatzinguenseI would like to know why there seems to be a sense of inappropriateness when one says, "excuse me" to someone

I have never heard about this with regard to American English; however, there are British people who are absolutely enraged when Americans (e.g., visiting London) use this phrase instead of "Sorry". They seem to sense a very big difference between the two expressions which I fail to understand. I think it's that "Excuse me" is an imperative so it sounds like a command rather than like an apology. ???

CJ

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In Britain, do you say "sorry" when you want somebody to move out of the way? That is the meaning of "excuse me" that I am pointing to.

As I mention in my comment, I have noticed (through people's body language) that in the States some people seem offended when someone says "excuse me" when he/she wants them to move out of the way.

apatzinguenseIn Britain, do you say "sorry" when you want somebody to move out of the way? That is the meaning of "excuse me" that I am pointing to.

That's what I have been told. (I'm American.)

apatzinguensein the States some people seem offended when someone says "excuse me" when he/she wants them to move out of the way.

I imagine that could happen, but I have not observed it.

CJ

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