How to interrupt in English?
There are situations in life where you need to interrupt, even if it might seem impolite or be socially awkward.
Interrupting can be difficult enough even in your mother-tongue, so obviously it becomes twice as complicated in a second language.
Maybe an interruption is necessary because a friend is talking for too long and being boring. In that informal situation, you can just butt in and talk more loudly than the other person.
However, if you are in a business meeting, you may need to interject because:
- you missed what was being said
- you need further information
- you want clarification
- you feel you should correct an erroneous point/statistic/claim
- you want to bring the speaker back on topic
This more formal setting may call for a standard phrase that is universally acknowledged in business life as a language tool for interrupting, so that the speaker will give ground and allow you to have your say.
In a conference call, using a known formal phrase to jump in is even more important when there are less physical clues to aid your language.
Cultural differences also comes into play. For example, interrupting a Japanese or German person in mid-sentence could be a big insult to the speaker, so always bear the nationality and cultural norms of the speaker so as to avoid giving offence.
POLITE INTERRUPTING PHRASES FOR BUSINESS
Could I just add something here?
Excuse me for interrupting, but I should add that…
Could I just expand on that a little?
Do you mind if I come in here?
If I could just come in here…
Could I just jump in here for a minute?
Sorry to interrupt but I think Stefano has an important point that should be added here. Stefano?
(To be extra British, you can add “Sorry…” to the beginning of all of the above phrases)
FOR CLARIFICATION / TO PUT BACK ON TOPIC
Sorry, I think I’m missing something. Could you just go back and explain how this relates to…
Do you mind if we stay on topic?
Sorry, could we keep to the point at hand, please?
Sorry to interrupt for a second, just going back to the main discussion…
INTERRUPTIONS THAT MAY BE CONSIDERED RUDE
Will you just be quiet for a minute?
OK, let’s wrap it up there!
Please stop. I need to say something.
Please let other people talk about this.
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