There are many ways for you to make requests in English politely. Most of the polite requests are in the form of questions.
Would you / Would you like to / Could you …?
The most common polite way is to use Would you/Would you like to/Could you to ask other people to do somethings. We use it to suggest or request something more polite than Do you want to …?
|Polite requests||Answer Yes||Answer No|
|Would you please give me the file on the table?||Yes, of course.||Well, I am afraid …|
|Could you join us at a party on this Sunday?||Yes, I am happy to join||I am sorry I am busy this Sunday.|
|Would you like to join us at a party on Sunday?||Yes, certainly||I’d like to but … + reason.|
Would you mind / Do you mind …?
Would you mind + Verb-ing
Do you mind if I + Verb
If you think the answer maybe negative, and you want to sound more polite, you can use Would you mind …?
- Would you mind helping with my exercise?
- When you leave the room, would you mind closing the door?
No, not at all!
We use Would you mind if I or Do you mind if I to make a request, we may be anticipating possible objections:
- Would you mind if I take your car to work today?
No, not at all.
- Do you mind if I go out to buy some apples now?
No, of course not.
Remember that ‘Do you mind…?’ and ‘Would you mind…?’ mean ‘Is it a problem for you?’ so the polite answer when we ‘say yes’ is ‘No’.
Asking for permission
Can I / Could I / May I / Might I
We use Can I / Could I / May I / Might I to request something for your self, all of these forms are possible. May and Might are consider to be more polite than Can and Could. We see the following examples:
- Can I have a biscuit?
Yes, of course
- Could I ask you a favour?
Of course you can.
- Could I possibly have another sandwich?
I don’t think so. You’ve had too much.
- Might I leave the class a bit earlier today?
Yes, you can.
- If you’ve finished with the computer, may I borrow it?
Yes, please do.
Might is more frequenly used in indirect questions, as an indirect softens the request. Note the further polite alternatives that we can use.
- I wonder if I might leave the class a bit earlier?
Others way to say it are:
- Would it be OK if I left the class a bit earlier?
- Would I be able to leave the class a bit earlier?
[section title=”Remember”] It’s more polite to use these phrases.
- Would you mind if I…?
- Could I possibly…?
- Could you possibly…?
- Do you think you could…?
Choose the best polite answer.
[rapid_quiz question=”____ I left early tomorrow morning? I have a doctor’s appointment.” answer=”Would you mind if” options=”do you mind if|Could|Would you mind if” notes=””]
[rapid_quiz question=”Would you mind ____ me with these boxes?” answer=”helping” options=”help|if helping|helping” notes=””]
[rapid_quiz question=”Do you mind ____ the window please?” answer=”closing” options=”closed|closing|to close” notes=””]
[rapid_quiz question=”____ you like to come to the cinema tonight?” answer=”Would” options=”Could |Can|Would” notes=””]
[rapid_quiz question=”‘I’ve forgotten my wallet.’ – Don’t worry. I ____ lend you some money if you like.” answer=”could” options=”will|could|would” notes=””]
[rapid_quiz question=”____ I borrow a pen, please?” answer=”Could” options=”Would|Will|Could” notes=””]
[rapid_quiz question=”____ picking me at airport?” answer=”Do you mind” options=”Would you|Could you|Do you mind” notes=””]