If it isn’t too much trouble, could we possibly have your attention for the next half an hour so that we can tell you how to make polite requests in English?
Would you mind doing that? Do you think you could……possibly…..if you would be so kind? Welcome to….
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Could it be possible that you guys talk in one episode about how non-English-speakers can send a clear message to someone but without sounding bossy (mandón/mandona)?
Sometimes when I need to send a message to someone, in my mind I try to disconnect the Spanish way to ask for things because, as you might know, we usually use the direct way without any polite words (example “pass me the salt”). But English is another world. Good manners are on top of anything even if you need to command (give) an order.
Recently, I was trying to send a message to someone that I do not have much of a relationship with and although I used modal verbs (could, might, would,…) and the word ‘please’, in my mind it still sounded bossy. Maybe I’ve become a bit too British and I am too sensitive to rudeness!
Indirect questions with Nicola: http://www.inglespodcast.com/50
Would you mind / Do you mind… (+ gerund)? – expect the answer ‘no’, which means the person does not mind
Could you please…?
Can you please…?
Do you think you could/might…?
Do you think I could/might…?
Could/Might/May I possibly…?
Is it alright if I (just)….?
Could you possibly be so kind as to…(infinitive)?
If it isn’t too much trouble…
I wonder if…
The more you add together, the politer (and more indirect) it sounds. But don’t go overboard!
e.g. If it isn’t too much trouble, I wonder if you would mind me asking if you think you might possibly be able to give me a hand, please?
Using Question Tags – for bigger favours and requests
You couldn’t ……could you?
You wouldn’t be able to take me to the airport, would you?
You couldn’t lend me some money until I get paid, could you?
I don’t suppose I could stay at your place for a few days, could I?
Let’s start the meeting, shall we? (NB. Let’s….,shall we? TAG)
Direct Verses Indirect
Direct: Pass me the salt.
Indirect: Do you think you could pass me the salt, (please)? Can you pass me the salt, please?
Direct: I want help with this.
Indirect: Would you mind helping me with this?
You couldn’t help me with this, could you?
Direct: Send us a voice message.
Indirect: Could you possibly be so kind as to send us a voice message?
Direct: Help me.
Indirect: I wonder if you could (please) help me?
Can you please help me?
Polite requests in writing: I would be grateful if you could…..(+ infinitive without ‘to’)
Special polite exception to 2nd conditional verb tense rules:
I would (WOULD) be grateful if you sent (PAST) me further details – NORMAL
I would (WOULD) be grateful if you would (WOULD) send me further details – MORE POLITE
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English.
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On next week’s episode: Words in English that come from Spanish
The music in this podcast is by Pitx. The track is called ‘See You Later’
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