"Can I have a word" and similar terms


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.
  • 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!" ..