You probably know someone who you consider to be a liar. They might make up big, elaborate lies or they might have a tendency to lie about small, trivial things. Whatever the situation, it’s hard to trust them. It’s also difficult to separate the truth from the lies. To differentiate, look for key phrases that chronic liars often use.

Here are five phrases that liars use to make you believe them:

1. They Use “They, He, She or We” More Than “I”

Using “I” means taking ownership and accountability, so liars tend to use other pronouns instead. A study on lie detection conducted by the University of Texas at Austin found that lies could be predicted by looking at written statements. They discovered that liars commonly use three types of phrases:

  1. Less use of I statements
  2. Less use of words that are exceptions, like but or except
  3. More negative emotion words such as hate, worthless, angry or sad

2. They Say “To Tell You The Truth” Or “Honestly”

Liars use these phrases to reiterate the fact that what they’re telling you is the truth. Of course, it’s a lie, but these two phrases can help trick you into believing them. Saying “to tell you the truth” or “honestly” are defensive phrases that liars use to defend the truth of their story right off the bat.

3. They Give Short Answers, Deny Wrongdoing And Use Justifications

If you ever question a liar’s story, they immediately become defensive. They deny any wrongdoing and justify their words or actions, even if you never accused them of wrongdoing or questioned their motives. They give short answers because they are trying not to reveal too much of the truth, and they defend themselves because they feel guilty.

4. They Say “I Always” Or “I Never”

These phrases are almost always false. Think about something you absolutely always or absolutely never do. Most of us stray from our routine at least every once in a while. A liar adds these phrases to their conversation to make them seem more reliable to you.

5. They Elaborate With Too Much Detail

A liar often comes prepared with an elaborate lie. They have memorized the details so they won’t get caught in their lie. A liar might tell you way too much detail in an attempt to make their story seem more realistic. They might know exactly what time it was when something occurred, or exactly what someone was wearing. If their story is too detailed, it’s probably false.

Power of Positivity
American Psychological Association
Lie Spotting
NBC News