11 Easy Ways to Interrupt Someone Politely in English

Apr 18, 2018 | 14 comments

Recently, I received a question about how to interrupt someone politely in English. Here was the exact problem: “How to interrupt politely? Because I was on call with Americans yesterday. I wanted to say that I was only able to stay for 40 minutes on this call. I didn’t know how to interrupt in a polite way. Any ideas?”

Yes! I definitely have some ideas and I’m so glad I received this question because interrupting someone is certainly a delicate matter.

Generally speaking, it’s rude to interrupt someone, right?

But this question is a perfect example of when it’s necessary to interrupt: you’re on a phone call or in a meeting and you need to share an important message, like the need to leave early.

There are three common reasons why it may be necessary to interrupt someone. You need or want to:

  • Share an important message
  • Ask a question or clarify something
  • Join a conversation or express your opinion on the topic

The key is knowing how to interrupt someone politely. To help you do that, I want to share essential tips and common phrases we use in English.

Essential tips and common sentences for interrupting.

Lesson by Annemarie

11 Ways to Interrupt Someone Politely in English

When you need to deliver a message:

  • I hate to interrupt but I wanted to let you know I have to leave the meeting early.
  • I’m so sorry to interrupt but…
  • I don’t mean to be rude but may I interrupt quickly?

 

When you need to end a conversation

  • I’m terribly sorry to interrupt you but I have to be at work for a meeting shortly and must *get going*. It was wonderful to see you. Have a nice day. (Note: In this context, to get going means to depart or leave.)
  • Oh! Sorry to interrupt but I just noticed the time and I need to get to work. I’m very sorry. But it was great chatting with you.

When you need to ask a question or would like to clarify something:

  • Sorry to interrupt but may I ask a quick question?
  • I’m so sorry for interrupting but I’d like to make sure I understood you correctly.
  • I don’t mean to be rude but I’d like to ask a question.

 

When you want to join a conversation or express your opinion:

  • So sorry to interrupt but before we *move on*, I’d like to add my thoughts on this topic. (Note: to move on means to start doing or discussing something new.)
  • Excuse me but may I jump in here?
  • May I add something quickly?

Today my challenge question for you is a bit different than normal. In fact, it’s really more of a quiz.

This lesson is focused on what to say when you need to interrupt a conversation. But what should you say if someone interrupts you? How do you continue the conversation after the interruption?

Here are two specific questions:

  1. What can you say to someone to indicate that it is okay for them to interrupt?
  2. What can you say after the interruption to continue your comments?

Share your ideas and examples in the comments section below. I’ll be sure to add some feedback and examples of my own.

Have a great week!

~ Annemarie

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