How To Detect A Lie: Words And Phrases Liars Often Use

How To Detect A Lie: Words And Phrases Liars Often Use

Detecting if someone is lying is not an easy thing indeed, especially since liars tend to be really good at it. The words they choose are so precise that what they say sounds very believable.

Once you become aware of the words liars use and how they speak, you can indicate when they are being less than honest. A liar will never admit to being wrong or guilty of anything. Even when they are confronted with evidence they will make excuses for why they did a certain thing but will not admit to any fault. They want to feel justified in their actions in order to make you believe their lies.

Common Words And Phrases Liars Use To Make You Believe Them

There are certain telltale phrases that signal someone might be lying.

It’s also important to understand that using these phrases alone isn’t enough to show that a person is lying, but when taken together with other clues, they may indicate a deception is taking place.

I didn’t…

To convince you, a person who’s not saying the truth will be in denial when trying to explain something: “I didn’t do that… I don’t understand why you think that.” Further emphasis on denial is not necessary if someone is telling the truth.

Why would I do that?

Answering a question with a question is a huge red flag indicating the possibility of deception. Honest people make direct denials. They typically respond, “I didn’t do that.” Deceptive people are evasive, and when they are caught off guard, they need extra time to think of a believable response. A response like, “Why would I do that?” buys the deceptive person precious time to formulate such a response.  

How To Detect A Lie: Words And Phrases Liars Often Use

“Do I seem …

It is also about repeating questions. When you ask a question, and someone repeats it back to you. Maybe it is trying to buy time to think about how to reply.

Q: “Did you stole the money from the desk.”
A: “Do I seem the kind of person who would steal money.”

By the way…

Liars use phrases like this to try to minimize what they say next – but usually it’s what’s most important to the story. Pay extra attention to what the person says afterward.

What are you talking about?

A person who is telling a lie will do everything in their power to deflect attention away from themselves while maintaining the illusion of credibility. People who are telling the truth tend go on the offensive.

This will become obvious throughout the course of a conversation. If a person keeps trying to change the subject or comes off as guarded and noncommittal, they may be trying to hide something.

“Honestly” / “To tell you the truth”

Well, we would hope they would always be telling the truth, but a liar will try saying, ‘To be quite honest with you’ as support for a story that is clearly a lie, whereas people who don’t feel defensive don’t feel the need to say this.

How To Detect A Lie: Words And Phrases Liars Often Use

 “She”/”He”, “We”, “They” instead of “I”

When a person will point at others and use them as an excuse to what happened is an indication of lie. When a person avoids using the word “I” and points their words towards another person they are most likely blaming the other person for something that they are lying about.

I always”/ “I never

Using such words as “always” and “never” are usually a huge indicator that what the person is saying is actually a false statement. These words are used by liars in order for you to gain faith in what they are saying. It helps the liar look more reliable and trust worthy in your eyes.

Rather than focusing on the details of a situation or giving specifics, liars dance around the truth by using overly generalized statements that are too mushy to be disproven.

“I don’t remember doing that.”

People who lie a lot claim that they have problems remembering things to justify themselves and not tell the truth. But if they truly can’t remember, they will at least make the effort to remember. A liar will not even make the intent to remember.

That’s about it.

The word “about” is a word qualifier, which indicates the speaker has more to say but does not want to elaborate. If the speaker told the entire story, his or her response would be, “That’s it.” The word “about” signals that the response falls short of the entire story.

Truthful people relate all the facts without fear of legal or social consequences. A deceptive person does not tell the complete story because there’s something they don’t want to disclose.

Ignoring the question

How To Detect A Lie: Words And Phrases Liars Often Use

Q: “What computer system you use when you are in the office.

A: “Are you interviewing all of IT, too.”

When someone ignores your question and ask a new one at the same moment a trying to find out how much do you know. Here, it may try to determine whether you have noticed something suspicious.


Sure, sometimes ‘left’ is the only word you can use in a situation, but there’s some kind of drama involved when someone uses it in place of another word that will do (think: “I left the gym at six” vs. “I went home at six”). It could be due to one’s desire to “leave” the lie behind.

How To Detect A Lie: Words And Phrases Liars Often Use

Too much detail

Liars have to memorize the details of their false story so that they won’t get caught in a lie. They will often tell you way too much detail as a result of trying to make their story seem realistic and cover their tracks.

A liar will try saying “It was exactly 8:15 am when I looked out the window and saw the car was missing from the driveway.” Very few people would know the exact time that they looked out the window, or would think to check the clock as their first reaction, so this additional detail is a giveaway of a story concocted by a liar.

“How can you accuse me that way?”

The intention of the person who uses it is that you feel the need to justify your accusation, and you will, especially if it’s someone you care about. Meanwhile, the person will have time to elaborate on their lie.

You can’t prove that.

The word “prove” suggests that evidence exists to verify the supposition or accusation posited, but the speaker failed to discover the hidden proof.

Honest people do not think in terms of proof: They know that no evidence exists because they did not do what the speaker accused. Deceptive people know proof of their deception exists but the speaker has not yet discovered sufficient evidence to support the accusation.

“As far as I recall.”

Liars often take a guarded tone when they’re trying to deceive others. They may lower their voice and ask for clarification, saying, “What do you mean?” or “What’s the meaning of this?” They also use qualifying phrases to hedge their statements and try to get themselves out of the hot seat.


The key to detecting deception is to listen carefully to what someone tells you. Words do not simply fall from people’s mouths. They have meaning and are a direct representation of what a person is thinking: Words can, and do, reveal deception. 

How To Detect A Lie: Words And Phrases Liars Often Use

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