The question “do you mind?” is frequently used in casual conversations, everywhere. Now due to the nature of the phrase (it’s a question), you would reply immediately because it sounds easy but that’s where people get stuck.
Today we will be looking at the different meanings it can have and what to say to each one.
What to Say When Someone Says “Do You Mind” In Anger
The first meaning “do you mind” can have is when it is said in anger or with disgust and irritation. It’s a way to say, you are getting in my way or you are inconveniencing me.
They might just feel entitled but if they are right, you owe them an apology to set things straight. Here are some responses that soothe them and fix everything without calling undue and embarrassing attention to yourself:
It doesn’t come quickly to mind but it is a polite way of saying you are sorry especially if you have done something really rude or upsetting to someone.
A friend of mine says this to me whenever something is wrong and it is very heartwarming. If you don’t want to say sorry in a boring manner, you can use this courteous and classy (I dare say) reply.
You take responsibility for your mistake instead of ignoring it as most people would. You can also add an adjective to make it sound really tosh and formal.
For example, “my sincere apologies” or “my deepest apologies”. If you are not very comfortable with any of the two, an informal “my bad” should also do.
I am sorry
This generic response rolls off our tongues. It is a good one but because of how frequently it is used, it takes the magic out of it (get it, cos it is one of the five magic words).
You can still use this with words like “deeply”, “truly” and “so”. It makes it sound more sincere and personal.
A: Do you mind? Huff!
B: I am very sorry. I will leave.
A: Do you mind John? I am trying to get some work done.
B: I am terribly sorry. I will turn it off immediately.
Also acceptable is “I’m sorry about it.” It shifts the focus to what you did wrong rather than you who made the mistake.
Is anything the matter?
Remember when I said some people just feel entitled? Well, they can also feel very proud and vain, and they just want to show someone some attitude.
In this case, you can ask what’s wrong instead of apologizing because you are not in the wrong. If you are really at fault you can then apologize but asking will help you know your mistake and how to fix it.
You can try asking “is anything wrong?” however, it seems less like you are trying to apologize and more like you are trying to reassure a small, defenseless child.
Am I in the way?
Some people feel it is rude to reply to a question with a question but what else can you do to get clarity? This is a smart response to the question since, if you’re wrong, you’ll know how to correct it.
Sometimes we get so engrossed in our things that we don’t realize that there are others around us and we might be disturbing them.
When you ask this, you will be told what you are doing wrong so you can stop and everyone can continue in peace. Here’s an example:
A: Do you mind?
B: Am I in the way?
A: Yes. I need to get through
A: Do you mind Jim?
B: Am I in the way?
A: I would appreciate it if you left the room, I am trying to vacuum here.
Oh, I didn’t mean to
This response is a way of apologizing for a misunderstanding”. You have no intention of getting on anyone’s nerves and you don’t want to start up a ruckus.
It is very simple and sincere, and it should make the whole issue blow over quickly. If you like, you can do something with it if you want. For example,
A: Do you mind?
B: Oh, I didn’t mean to. I am so sorry. I hope this is better.
A: Much better.
What to Say When Someone Says “Do You Mind” to Ask for Permission
On the other hand, “do you mind?” can be said to mean something else. When someone says do you mind to you in a nice, polite voice then they are trying to ask for a favor or asking for your permission on something.
Except for the fact that you won’t be able to assist them or grant their wishes, you are not required to apologize in this situation. In that case, here are some replies you can use to nicely tell them you can’t be of help:
I will rather you don’t
This reply sounds kind of fancy and can be used for requests. It might come out as harsh but if you are in charge then it is your choice and they will have to learn to deal with it. If you want to soften it up you can give a reason for your reply.
A: Um, do you mind if I used your hair curler?
B: I would rather you don’t. It’s faulty and you would end up burning your hair.
Oh, I mind very much
This response is stronger than the one ahead because of the “very mind”. You can say it without it but this reply tells them you have made up your mind and there is no need to talk about it. If you want to give your reasons that’s up to you.
This reply is very good if it is something that you have a strong stand on. For example, if you don’t like visitors after ten and your roommate asks if you mind if he hosts a sleepover then saying you mind very much will explain that you are completely against it.
I actually do
What may seem like a small thing to others might be a very big deal to you and if that is the case, this reply will throw them right off. Telling them you actually mind tells them that you have something against what they are asking you to do.
You can say, “I actually mind” or a little strongly, “I have something against it”. This is very polite yet firm. You can decide to talk it out with them if you see fit.
I am sorry I can’t/ won’t be able to
If it was a request to help them with something and you were not able to then this apology is not out of place. Saying just sorry will be odd so you can add your reason for not being able to help them. For example:
A: I will be busy Tuesday afternoon. Do you mind picking up the kids from school by 2 o’clock?
B: I am sorry. I have an appointment with my dentist at the same time.
A: I see. Will 3 o’clock be okay?
And if you are fine with helping them with whatever it is they are asking your assistance with or if you can grant the permission they are asking for then any of these replies should tell them just as much:
No, I don’t mind at all
It sounds like you are saying, it’s actually a pleasure. Of course, I am okay with doing you this kind of favor. This will assure them that they are not being a burden to you or putting you through any kind of stress whatsoever.
You can just go for “no I don’t mind” if you feel the whole reply is too long.
Go on ahead
If it’s something about permission, say to borrow or use something that belongs to you, this reply tells them you are fine with them using it and they can use it right that moment if they like.
It’s also a great reply if you are in a queue and the other person is in a hurry.
Yes, I can do that
If it’s more like an errand and it’s something you are up to you can use this reply. It will let the person know you can handle the request and they don’t have to worry. Here’s an example,
A: Are you heading to the fifth floor, Jack?
B: Yeah Brian. Need anything?
A: Do you mind getting me a nice stack of opera from the lady at the desk
B: Yeah, I can do that. What size?
Notice that I used yeah in the example. If you are comfortable with that, then use it instead. You can also try “sure” if you like.
Not at all
This reply is so natural to the question. It will instantly make whoever is asking you for anything feel relieved that you are okay with whatever they want.
Besides that, the response is very casual and relaxed, and honestly, no one would expect such an enthusiastic answer. You can also add “help yourself”. Here’s an example:
A: Do you mind if I have some more salad with my meal?
B: Not at all. Help yourself.
Feel free to do so
When you know you can make someone happy by helping them with little things, do so. A reply like this will make them smile. You are not telling them, yes you can.
You are saying yes you can and do it as you will like. Some people add please and it is very courteous. Say it as you like, with or without the please.
Yes, I do mind, but I’ll go ahead and do it.
This is one of my least favorite answers because you are letting whoever asks you know that it is a burden on you and they will feel bad knowing that they are stressing you.
However, for those who will take it for granted or don’t understand the value, this should set them straight just fine. Say it with a smile so you don’t make anyone feel bad.
It’s no problem
This reply comes off as easygoing and if you can see to their request or help them in any way that it doesn’t inconvenience you, then you can use this to show them it’s fine, and you can be of help.
Yes of course!
This reply makes it sound like it is something you have been wanting to do for ages. It’s like asking a dog lover to walk your dog to the park.
You will literally see the sparkle in their eyes. They will be happy that they are not just asking a favor but doing something nice for you as well.
You can also use “of course not”. Just be careful. Add something to the end so they don’t think you are rejecting them.
A: I will be out all through Monday. I have a lot of appointments so do you mind watching my dog for me?
B: Of course not. It would be a dream come true.
A: Glad to hear that.
I am sure that you are no longer confused about how to handle a question like this no matter how suddenly it may pop up.
While you are answering be sure to note the context and the person you are talking to you don’t have any squabbles with them.