"Can I have a word" and similar terms

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Gabriele, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. Gabriele Member

    Germany/ German
    Hi all,

    for me as a German "Can I have a word" sounds a bit funny :)
    I understand how it is used, I guess.

    But there some more terms with "word"
    Something as: word was given
    and so on

    Can you please help and explain the different possibilities.
  2. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
  3. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    Can I have a word often seems to imply a threat - it suggests you are in trouble or have erred in some way and the (senior) person is going to reprimand you. It msut be widely used in schools and work-places to have picked up that connotation for me.

    I guess it is possible to use it neutrally, but I prefer to say "have a chat" in that case, and if I say to someone "can I have a word" and I don't plan to tell them off, I'll say "it's OK you're not in trouble!" ..
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)

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