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Hi, all. No episódio de hoje, eu falo sobre algumas maneiras de usar a palavra excuse em inglês. Um deles é aquele “Como é que é? ” indignado.
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So what if I told you that this podcast is about a simple word that almost every English student learns about in their first few classes? Yep, it’s a basic expression and it’s usually lumped together with all those greetings covered at the very beginning of that first English book. I’m talking about the word, or term, rather, “Excuse me”.
I wanted to expand on the ways we can use this little expression and go beyond that very basic meaning. I still remember being in my very first English class at some school in São José dos Campos, which is where I grew up, and this expression came up… It was one of the very first lessons in the book, and I can’t remember exactly what the teacher said about it – but all I can tell you is that during my first few years of learning English… probably for the first two or three years, in my head I thought “Excuse me” meant something like “I’m sorry”… I knew it wasn’t exactly the same thing but that’s what, that’s the meaning that stuck with me. That’s what I got from what the teacher explained, probably. So today we’re gonna clear things up and we’re going beyond that meaning and taking a look at other common ways to use the term “Excuse me” and the word “excuse”.
So here’s what I had learned after one year in my first English school: that “Excuse me” meant something like “I’m sorry”. Well, not really. When you say I’m sorry, you mean one thing. When you say “Excuse me“, you mean something else. So in what kind of situation, typically, would you say “Excuse me”? When you’re talking to someone and you cough, or sneeze – people say “Excuse me”. Or when you’re talking to someone and your phone rings, and you think you need to answer it. You say “Excuse me, I gotta take this one”. So basically when you’re interrupting the conversation for some reason and you say “Excuse me”.
When you want someone’s attention, when that person is engaged in a conversation, or they’re walking past you and for some reason you want their attention, you wanna talk to them but they’re not looking at you, that’s what you say: “Excuse me. Can we have a word?” or “Excuse me. How do I get to the post-office?”. When you interrupt a meeting because you need to give your boss an urgent message, or when you knock on your boss’ door and then you open it, you say “Excuse me”. Basically, you’re interrupting something: a conversation, their work, their meeting, their walk, whatever it is. So you begin with “Excuse me”.
Here’s another one: you’re in a crowded place and you need to move. Everyone knows what I’m talking about. Think of a crowded place. The subway station at 6pm on a Friday. Or a party, or the shopping mall Saturday night. There are people everywhere and as you start walking you bump into a few people ’cause you need to move towards the exit. So you say “Excuse me. Excuse me”. Or you’re in a restaurant and the tables are pretty close together and you need to squeeze past someone’s table to get to your table and you say “Excuse me” ’cause you’re almost touching them. A pretty common translation for “Excuse me” in several of these cases would be “Com licença”.
Sometimes people say “Excuse me?” when they think someone’s giving them false information and they feel offended or upset. John tells his student group “So I have written the report…” and Sara immediately replies “Excuse me? I wrote the entire report. You just wrote the title!”. Or Jane says “So we’re all going to work on our assignment tomorrow morning…” and Mary says “Excuse me? I wasn’t informed about tomorrow. I’ve got a doctor appointment tomorrow morning.” Excuse me? What you just said is baloney.
And, of course, an excuse means “uma desculpa”, meaning a reason why you got out of doing something, or didn’t show up for an appointment, or didn’t do your homework. What was your excuse for not doing your homework? What’s your excuse for being so late? What’s your excuse? Here’s a very popular collocation: lame excuse, or, in Portuguese, “desculpa esfarrapada”. Johnny said he couldn’t come because he got a flat tire. What a lame excuse. He uses that excuse once a month. What a lame excuse.
I wanna hear from you – what are the excuses you’ve been using? What’s the lamest excuse you have ever heard? Let us know in the comments, as always, and talk to you next time!
lumped together with = agrupada com
or term, rather = ou melhor, expressão
baloney = besteira
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