Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about expressions to use when speaking to a stranger. I'm going to talk about some expressions you can use in service situations and also just, if you need a little bit of help on a street, for example. Let's get started!
Okay, the first expression is "Excuse me...," excuse me.
Please make sure when you approach someone you don't know, to ask a question or to ask for guidance, you use "Excuse me…"
Sometimes, I hear people say, "I'm sorry…," I'm sorry. You might use, "I'm sorry to interrupt you…" if for some reason, someone's working on a computer or they're doing something. You might say, "I'm sorry to interrupt you…," but generally, "Excuse me…" is better.
Also, please consider the way you say this expression. If you say, "Excuse me…," it sounds a little bit apologetic. It sounds like you don't want to bother the person, but you have a question. If you say, "Excuse me…," it sounds a little bit aggressive, so it might sound like you're upset or you're angry about something. So generally, if you want to ask a question, if you need some help, it's better to sound a little bit apologetic like, "Excuse me…" So, try to sound a little bit apologetic. I think that's a little more polite when you need to ask someone a question and you don't know that person.
So, after you say "Excuse me…," there are a few different things you might need to ask the stranger. This is a very polite pattern you can use.
"Would you happen to know…?"
Would you happen to know…?
We begin our question with this…
"Would you happen to know (some information)?"
After this, we're going to use, in many cases, what's called an embedded question, an embedded question. So, I'm starting a question here…
"Would you happen to know (information)?"
So, that's a question, and inside this question is another smaller question. So we use these patterns, this question inside a question, to make very polite questions.
So let's look at some examples…
"Would you happen to know where I might find a coffee shop?"
So this, "...where I might find…," so this sounds very polite as well, "...where I might find…," where it's possible for me to find. I'm not sure exactly where the coffee shop is. Maybe, do you know about where there's a coffee shop?
So…
"Would you happen to know where I might find a coffee shop?"
Or
"Would you happen to know where the library is?"
Or
"Would you happen to know what this line is for?"
So maybe, you see a big line of people on the street and you're curious, hmm…
"Would you happen to know what those line is for?"
Or
"Would you happen to know what floor the restroom is on?"
So you could use this in a department store or another tall building.
"Would you happen to know who the manager is?"
So you could use this in a business situation or in a shopping situation.
Or
"Would you happen to know if this transportation goes to (destination)?"
So transportation here means bus or train or maybe car, I suppose, subway. Goes to..., so if this bus or if this train "goes," make sure to use "goes" here because we're talking about train or bus, singular transport. So if this train goes to (destination), the place you want to go.
"Would you happen to know if this train goes to 3rd Street?"
"Would you happen to know if this bus goes to LA?"
So, there are many points I want to talk about with these examples.
First, a pronunciation point.
When you say this expression, "Would you happen to know…," we push the sounds together, we reduce the sound, so not, "Would you...happen to...know…," but, "Would you happen to know…" "Would you happen to know…" So, this sounds much more natural.
Also, you'll notice the grammar, especially in these sentences, is a bit different from a regular question. This is a special kind of grammar for embedded questions. I have it in this note here. If a form of the verb "to be" is used in an embedded question, the verb changes its position in the sentence. It follows the noun. So, when your...excuse me, when you're making regular questions, the verb "be" comes before the noun.
So, let's look at some examples, let's look at this one. In this sentence, I'm using the verb "be," here I'm using "is."
So…
"Would you happen to know where the library is?"
So, this kind of question is something I hear many learners struggle with at first, but it's an easy fix. In a regular question, you would just say, where is the library, right?
"Where is the library?"
So, "is" comes before your noun.
"Where is the library?"
In an embedded question; however, "...where the library is," "be" follows my noun here. So, this is something we do for embedded questions. When we're putting a question inside another question, we follow this grammar pattern.
Another example…
"...what this line is for?"
...what this line is for?
So here, again, if I see a line, a line of people on the street, I might say directly…
"What is this line for?"
What is this line for?
And this "for" means like the purpose. What is the purpose of this line, in other words.
"What is this line for?"
In an embedded question; however, "is," in this case again, comes after the noun. What is this line becomes…
"Would you happen to know what this line is for?"
So, we changed the position of the "be" verb.
Same thing here…
"Would you happen to know what floor the restroom is on?"
In a regular question…
"What floor is the restroom on?"
In an embedded question…
"Would you happen to know what floor the restroom is on?"
Finally, one more here…
"Would you happen to know who the manager is?"
Regular question…
"Who is the manager?"
Embedded question…
"Would you happen to know who the manager is?"
So, I'm using this one for today's lesson because it sounds very polite and it's probably better to try to be polite when you're speaking to a stranger. But if you want to use this polite pattern, you need to keep in mind, you'll be using an embedded question and your grammar will need to change.
So, yes, you can use a direct question, like…
"Where might I find a coffee shop?"
Or
"Where is the library?"
Or
"What is this line for?"
Or
"What floor is the restroom on?"
And so on…
Those are all perfectly fine. Those are great questions. They are very clear. You can say…
"Excuse me, where is the library?"
You can absolutely say that. There is no communication problem at all. But, if you want to level up your speech, make it sound more polite, make it sound more natural, you can use this pattern with this more advanced grammar.
Okay, let's continue to the other side of the board.
Here, just a couple of other clear questions, yes-or-no questions, a few of them.
This one…
"Is this the train / bus / subway and so on for (destination)?"
So this is another question about where transportation is going. So, I introduced this pattern…
"Would you happen to know if this bus goes to LA?"
So, you can use a very polite pattern like that or this one is a little less polite…
"Excuse me, is this the bus for LA?"
Or
"Excuse me, is this the subway for 3rd Street?"
That's also very polite and the person can say, "Yes, it is" or "Nope, it's not. It's that one." So, you can use this if you don't want to use this long pattern. This is still perfectly nice, perfectly polite, it's okay. It's not as polite as this one, but this one is very clear and very direct.
Another pattern…
"I'm looking for (person / location / item)."
This is something that you will probably use in shopping situation. You need to talk to staff somewhere or perhaps, you're just in a really big building, you're visiting a client or you're visiting some other business contact and you need to find another person or you need to find a place, so you ask someone who is working there. So you can use people, you can use specific places, or you can use objects in this pattern.
"I'm looking for the manager."
Or
"I'm looking for this person."
Or
"I'm looking for the restroom."
Or
"I'm looking for the break room."
Or
"I'm looking for a pen."
Or whatever it is you need, you can use…
"I'm looking for (something)."
And then, if you want to be polite, you can say…
"Do you know where I could find…?"
Or
"Do you know where I might find him / her / it?"
Him and her refers to a person, in this case. You might also hear "them" depending on the situation. Some people prefer to use the word "them" to refer to themselves.
"Do you know where I could find him / her / them?"
Or, for a place or an item…
"Do you know where I could find it?"
So, you can use one of these, to clearly ask a question. So…
"I'm looking for this person…"
Or
"I'm looking for this item. Do you know where I could find it?"
So this "could and might," I have these two things here, the difference is small in this case.
"Do you know where I could find him?"
Or
"Do you know where I could find it?"
Means, do you know where it's possible to find that thing. In other words, this is a very polite way of saying…
"Where is he?"
Or
"Where is she?"
"Do you know where I might find him?"
That sounds like there's a possibility that person is in that location or there's a possibility that object is in that location. This one, it just sounds more polite in this case. Both of them mean…
"Where is it?"
"Where is he?"
"Where is she?"
"Where are they"
And so on…
So, they're just different levels of politeness to ask this question.
Okay, sometimes you need to ask a kind of direct yes-or-no question to someone like…
"Are you (name)?"
Or
"Are you (job title)?"
So, you could use this if you meet like a famous person or you think you see a famous person, or you could use it if you're looking for someone who has a specific job title like…
"Are you the manager?"
Or
"Are you Hugh Jackman?"
So, if you run into a famous person somewhere or someone you know, but you have not met like…
"Are you the designer of this fashion line?"
You could use a pattern like this to ask them that question.
Finally, if you are in a shopping situation and you need some help, we don't want to accidentally ask another customer, you could ask this question…
"Excuse me, do you work here?"
Do you work here?
So that means, do you work in this store that I'm in right now?
"Excuse me, do you work here?"
So, if you're not sure if someone is staff or not, this is the question that you can ask them.
So, I hope that this lesson gives you some patterns that you can use when you need to speak to strangers, especially when you need to ask strangers for a little bit of help or guidance. So, of course there are other expressions that you can use when speaking to strangers. If you have some more ideas, please feel free to leave those in the comment section of this video. Also, if you have any other questions or comments or if you want to practice making some sentences, especially with this embedded question pattern, please feel free to do so in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!

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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Friday at 09:28 PM
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M Zaenal Abidin
Friday at 11:00 AM
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It very nice explanation..sounds clear!

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Yeni
Sunday at 05:12 AM
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Thanks for teaching to us ,your classes are great!🏆

Ben
Sunday at 04:22 AM
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I like this class

semyon
Sunday at 01:18 AM
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I like this lesson.

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Hi Abdallah, Alex, Miguel, Edward, and Abood,


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Abood
Saturday at 06:57 PM
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Thank you so much for all these lesoons are really helped me .

Edward
Saturday at 05:45 PM
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Would you happen to know how escan I move to other pag

Miguel
Saturday at 12:16 AM
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Being polite is difficult to accomplish in the different cultures. However, these expressions give us a good form of communication in different levels. Thanks a lot for the lesson. For me, it is very useful.