Is it Rude to Say What Do You Want?

Whether we’re in a hurry, in a bad mood, or otherwise, we’ve all said it: “what do you want?”

But, is it rude to be so brief? Find out by reading the full and in-depth answer below!

Is it Rude to Say What Do You Want?

Saying what do you want isn’t exactly rude by default, though most times that is exactly how it is perceived by the one we are addressing the statement to; that it is a rude or angry statement.

How do you feel when someone says “what do you want” to you? 

More than likely, it makes you feel like they are upset or have very little patience for you and your needs or wishes.

And, that is exactly how most people do indeed feel when we say “what do you want” to them.

How Rude Is it?


On a scale of 1 to 10, saying what do you want rates 7 on the rude meter. Using the statement “what do you want” rates so highly on our meter due to the fact that it is indeed most often used in a rude or angry manner.

However, sometimes, it isn’t rude or angry as much as it is that whoever said it is in a hurry. 

Further, sometimes “what do you want” is said in a playful way. 

For these reasons, we couldn’t in correctness rate saying what do you want higher than a 7 on the rude meter.

Why is it Rude?

Asking someone what do you want is more often rude because it is said in an aggressive way. 

For the most part, people use the term what do you want when they are annoyed, fed up, angry, or frustrated with the person they are speaking to.

Common Questions

Is it rude to say what?

Saying what isn’t automatically rude, though many folks do often automatically interpret it that way.

For you to be able to gauge whether “what” is said to you in a rude way or not, you must examine the entire conversation (as well as your relationship with the person saying it to you).

Is it rude to ask what do you need?

In a professional sense, as well as “off the books”, asking someone “what do you need” isn’t exactly rude, but it’s not quite polite or proper either. 

For example, in a working environment that is extremely face-paced, such as a fast food restaurant, asking a returning customer who cut in line “what do you need” is perfectly fine. 

On the other hand, if your doctor opens up your next examination with the line “what do you need”, it is rather rude.

How to say what do you want politely?

There is no correct way to ask someone what they want. That said, it is almost always best to be direct and polite about it. After greeting them, simply ask them what it is that they need.

Depending on whether the conversation is professional, or off the clock, helps determine how to politely ask a person what they want.