How to interrupt politely in English

How to Interrupt Someone Politely in English

How to politely and ethically interrupt a conversation in English

Being able to interrupt a conversation politely is an important skill in various areas of life. In work meetings, it helps maintain productive discussions and shows respect for each participant. In everyday conversations, it avoids conflicts and promotes harmonious relationships. In uncomfortable situations, the ability to interrupt a conversation can defuse tension and facilitate constructive problem-solving. Ethically and politely interrupting a conversation involves expressing your thoughts or questions without offending others. Using polite expressions such as “excuse me,” “may I?”, or “can I?” is a key aspect of this skill. In this article, we’ll learn how to do this correctly in English (common phrases) and why it’s important.

Twenty ways to politely and ethically interrupt a conversation

Ask for permission to clarify

  • Excuse me, may I interrupt for a moment?
  • Excuse me, may I provide some additional information?
  • Excuse me, may I ask a quick question?
  • One moment, I want to make sure I understand correctly…

Simply apologize for interrupting

  • I apologize for interrupting…
  • I’m sorry for interrupting…

When you’re in a hurry

  • Excuse me, I must be going now. Let’s catch up later.
  • I have a hard stop at 11:30 for another meeting.
  • I hate to interrupt, but I only have a few minutes.

When you need to take a call

  • Excuse me for interrupting, but I have an urgent call.

Point out an important moment

  • Before you go on,…
  • Before you move on,…

Use positive transition phrases

  • Yes, and…
  • Absolutely, and…

Use incomplete phrases

  • Can I stop you there for a second?

Suggest a break to discuss other topics

  • Let’s put a pin in that thought for now and come back to it later if we have time.

Compliment then interrupt

  • I appreciate your insights, but can we discuss this point further later?

Suggest a break to include others

  • We need to hear from others. May I stop you here to allow others to contribute?

Appeal to the greater good

  • For the benefit of everyone, can we address this point quickly?

Express interest, then interrupt

  • I’m very interested in what you’re saying, but can we revisit this after discussing another point?

Suggest a clarifying question

  • Before you continue, can I ask for clarification on something you mentioned?
  • May I interject for a moment? I need some clarification.

Ask for permission to offer a suggestion

  • May I offer a suggestion before we move on?

Suggest circling back to the main point

  • Can we circle back to the main point?

Identify the importance of the topic

  • This is an important point, can we focus on this for a moment?

Suggest an alternative approach

  • Would you mind if we look at this from a different angle?

Ask for input from others

  • Can we get some input from others on this issue?

Offer a suggestion for next steps

  • Before we proceed, may I suggest a course of action?

When someone needs attention

  • Sorry to cut in, but I think Dan has something to say.

To conclude and wrap up the conversation

  • In conclusion, I think we’ve covered everything.

A table of important words for politely interrupting a conversation in English

Excuse me/ɪkˈskjuːz miː/
Pardon me/ˈpɑːrdn miː/
May I?/meɪ aɪ/
Can I?/kæn aɪ/

A table of important phrases for politely interrupting a conversation in English  

PhraseTranscriptionExample of use
Excuse me/ɪkˈskjuːz miː/Excuse me, may I interrupt for a moment?
May I interrupt?/meɪ aɪ ˈɪntəˌrʌpt/May I interrupt to ask a quick question?
I apologize/aɪ əˈpɒlədʒaɪz/I apologize for interrupting.
Sorry for interrupting/ˈsɒrɪ fɔːr ˈɪntəˌrʌptɪŋ/Sorry for interrupting, but I have to answer a call.
Excuse the interruption/ɪkˈskjuːz ðə ˌɪntəˈrʌpʃən/Excuse the interruption, but this might be urgent.
Please excuse me/pliːz ɪkˈskjuːz miː/Please excuse me, but I have an important call.
I must answer a call/aɪ mʌst ˈænswər ə kɔːl/I must answer a call, but let’s continue later.
It might be an urgent call/ɪt maɪt biː ən ˈɜːdʒənt kɔl/It might be an urgent call, I’ll be right back.
Can I take this call?/kæn aɪ teɪk ðɪs kɔːl/Can I take this call? I’ll be back in a moment.
Let me check this quickly/let miː ʧɛk ðɪs ˈkwɪkliː/Let me check this quickly, I’ll be right back.
Pardon me/ˈpɑːrdn miː/Pardon me, but I need to step out for a moment.
May I have a moment?/meɪ aɪ hæv ə ˈmoʊmənt/May I have a moment? I need to take this call.
Can I just interject for a second?/kæn aɪ dʒʌst ˌɪntəˈrʤɛkt fɔr ə ˈsɛkənd/Can I just interject for a second? I have some relevant information to add.
My apologies for the interruption/maɪ əˈpɑːlədʒiz fɔr ðə ˌɪntəˈrʌpʃən/My apologies for the interruption, but I need to address this matter.
If I may just say something/ɪf aɪ meɪ dʒʌst seɪ ˈsʌmθɪŋ/If I may just say something, I think it’s important to consider another perspective.
May I add a quick comment?/meɪ aɪ æd ə kwɪk ˈkɒmənt/May I add a quick comment? I believe it’s relevant to the discussion.
Can I briefly interrupt?/kæn aɪ ˈbrifli ˌɪntəˈrʌpt/Can I briefly interrupt? I have an important point to make.
May I have your attention?/meɪ aɪ hæv jʊr əˈtɛnʃən/May I have your attention? I need to address an urgent matter.
If I could just say something/ɪf aɪ kʊd dʒʌst seɪ ˈsʌmθɪŋ/If I could just say something, it’s relevant to what you were discussing.


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