15 Things People Say When They’re Lying (And How to Spot Them)

15 Things People Say When They’re Lying (And How to Spot Them)

You’re mid-conversation, and something just feels… off. Maybe the other person’s eyes dart a little too much, or their story seems riddled with holes. Is your intuition spot-on, or are you just being paranoid? Here’s the truth: sometimes, it’s the words themselves that give the game away. Here are some things people tend to say when what’s coming out of their mouth is total BS.

1. “I’m being honest/Honestly…”

In the same way that someone who’s legitimately nice doesn’t have to proclaim it to the world, people who don’t lie need to preface conversations with declarations of honesty. Think about it: If a friend describes a misunderstanding and simply tells you what happened, you generally trust their version. But the moment they start peppering their story with “I swear!” or “Honestly, I’m not lying!” that’s when alarm bells start ringing. Trustworthy people let their words and actions speak for themselves, Psychology Today points out.

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2. “I don’t remember.”

This is the classic go-to phrase that a liar will use when busted. You might ask them if they hung out with a so-called platonic friend or if they dated someone else around the time they met you, and they’ll tell you they don’t remember. How convenient!

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3. “Trust me.”


When someone tells you to trust them, it’s a desperate way for them to get you to believe them. But why should you? If they’re lying to you, they should be convincing you of the truth without having to resort to such tactics. This phrase can also be used to guilt you into thinking you’ve been too hard on them by expecting proof that what they’re saying is legit.

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4. “I never/I always…”

Ever notice how someone who vehemently declares “I never lie!” often raises a red flag? Those sweeping pronouncements, like “I always tell you everything!” can be a sneaky tactic to deflect from the truth. Instead of addressing your concerns directly, they’re trying to shut down the conversation with a dramatic declaration of honesty. Remember, genuine openness comes from clear communication and owning up to mistakes, not from grand pronouncements.

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5. “Don’t you know me?”

Liars have a well-worn playbook, and the guilt trip is a classic tactic. They might launch into a dramatic, “Why wouldn’t you trust me?” or a passive-aggressive, “I guess I can’t tell you anything anymore.” These emotional manipulations aim to deflect blame and make you question your own intuition. Don’t fall for it!

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6. “How can you ask me that?”

Similar to the previous point, someone who’s lying to you might feign surprise or shock that you’re gutsy enough to initiate a tricky conversation with them or ask them difficult questions. It’s almost like they’re innocent, and you’re being unfair, but not quite — you’re onto them! They’re pulling this phrase out of their hat to make you feel guilty because if you do, you might just back off.

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7. “So, you’re asking if…”

Young couple arguing at home needs couples therapyistock

You ask your partner if they still want you to meet their folks and instead of giving you a straight answer, they say, “So, you’re asking if I still want you to meet my folks?” By repeating your question, this gives them a chance to come up with an answer that’s clearly not going to be the truth.

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8. “Look, here’s the thing…”


Liars often rely on stalling tactics to buy themselves time and craft a believable story. Phrases like “Here’s the thing…” or “The thing is…” become verbal smoke screens, creating a false sense of deliberation. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of thoughtful explanation. These drawn-out pauses are more likely a calculated attempt to obscure the truth. Instead, stay focused on the content of their answer. A genuine response rarely requires such a dramatic pause for dramatic effect.

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9. “I did not do that.”

Avoiding contractions such as “didn’t” or “wouldn’t” can be a tactic used to make someone seem more trustworthy, Inc. Africa notes. They might also be trying to fool you by being insistent about what they’re saying, even though most people use contractions. So, if someone you’ve caught in a lie isn’t using contractions even though they usually do, that’s a red flag! They’re emphasizing their behavior (or lack of behavior) and hoping it’ll be more convincing.

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10. “As far as I know…”

Liars are masters of subtle linguistic gymnastics, twisting words to avoid responsibility. Phrases like “As far as I know…” are the verbal equivalent of a shrug; they offer zero clarity or commitment. It’s a calculated way of feigning ignorance, creating a loophole that allows them to backpedal later. Don’t settle for these vague half-truths! Press for a direct and specific answer.

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11. “It didn’t happen.”

Instead of using pronouns such as “I,” someone who’s lying to you might further try to keep a distance between them and their bad behavior by saying “it” instead. So, they might say, “It didn’t happen” instead of “I didn’t do that.” It’s less personal and prevents them from taking accountability for their actions.

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12. “Why do you want to know?”

Close up of Upset Young Couple having Conversation

Sometimes the biggest tell of a lie comes from the reaction to a simple question. Liars often try to deflect by putting you on the defensive with questions like, “Why would you even ask me that?” They’re hoping to distract you from the issue at hand and make you feel like you’re in the wrong for questioning them.

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13. “That’s about it.”

When someone ends their story with a phrase like this, it should get your alarm bells ringing. Why? The word “about” is a qualifier, as Psychology Today reports, so someone using it in this context has more to tell you but doesn’t want to be open and transparent. If they were, they’d simply say, “That’s it!”

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14. “This is ridiculous!”

Throwing some humor into the conversation when it’s inappropriate could be a way for someone who’s not telling the truth to deflect from the situation. Saying, “This is ridiculous!” or “I can’t believe how silly this is!” can also be a way for them to appear innocent.

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15. “I don’t want to talk about this.”

Shutting down a conversation is always a red flag. The person doesn’t want to engage with you on an important matter, and they might even be getting defensive, which makes you wonder, “What are they hiding?” Good question!

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Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.