Manners & Misdemeanors

What Exactly Is the Difference Between "Pardon Me" and "Excuse Me?"

And why you should never say "pardon me" at a dinner party.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES/ SHELBY ROSS
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Myka Meier knows her way around a dinner table. The founder of Beaumont Etiquette teaches the Plaza Hotel's Finishing Program, along with specific classes on the proper way to conduct oneself when dining, in business, and in social situations.

So when Uber was looking for an etiquette expert to lead an event it was planning to promote its food delivery service, UberEats, and how well its customer can dine at home, Meier was a natural fit.

In addition to a few hands-on skill suggestions (never twirl spaghetti in a spoon, always scoop soup away from you, hold a wine or champagne glass by the stem instead of the bowl), Meier offered up a phrase that should never cross a diner's lips: "Pardon me."


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Etiquette expert Myka Meier

"To ask for a pardon is a term reserved for service staff, and implies you are asking to be forgiven," Meier says. "A server interrupting a conversation to take an order, for instance, would use the term 'pardon me' to do so."

Diners are instead advised to say "excuse me"—and nothing else—when they need to leave the table or get a server's attention.

The reason that it's best to keep it simple (and not give a more detailed reason for leaving the table) is straightforward: "Never announce you are going to use the restroom to those you are with, especially during a meal," Meier says. "None of your fellow diners want to think of you using the restroom, especially while they are eating! Instead, simply say 'please excuse me' when you leave the table."

Even fine dining is supposed to be fun and effortless, so the next time you find yourself needing to take a break from the conversation, remember to ditch the lengthy explanation—just say "excuse me," stand up, and carry on with your business.

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*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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Sam Dangremond
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