Welcome to Advanced English where we come together to improve your fluency, confidence, and clarity in English! Mary Daphne here and today we’re covering ten different ways of making polite requests and a non-pushy, non-aggressive way of asking someone to do something.
Let’s get into it!
To start let me use three different seemingly polite ways of asking someone to do something. Ready?
You are required to…
You are required to send out the newsletter at noon.
It is requested that you…
It is requested that you prepare the meeting notes a day before the meeting.
You are requested to…
You are requested to send me your PowerPoint deck ahead of the presentation.
It is required that you…
It is required that you eat your lunch in the office.
Ok, any guesses as to why these are actually not very polite requests? And no, using the passive voice doesn’t make it any more polite.
Phrasing it like this is a demand. A requirement, a necessity. A “do this or else”… It’s pushy and demanding and will not be received in a good way, because people don’t like to be told what to do. They’d prefer to have the option.
So, while the above are mandates an official order to do something, they are not requests.
Let’s look at 10 polite requests with some examples.
Could you please…
Could you please close the window, it’s freezing in here.
Could you please send John the first draft of the manuscript by the end of the week?
Would you mind… / Do you mind…
Do you mind calling the restaurant to see if they do take out?
Would you mind giving me some feedback on this lesson, I’d really appreciate it!
Little side note here, the affirmative response to a “would you mind” or “do you mind” is no. Because it’s no, I wouldn’t mind which means yes, I can do that. Yes I can call the restaurant and no I don’t mind. No I don’t mind giving you feedback in fact I’d love to give you feedback!
When you get a chance, can you…
When you get a chance, can you help me prepare for my upcoming interview?
When you get a chance, can you make that banana bread you’ve been telling me about?
If you’re available in the next 5 min, could you kindly…
If you’re available in the next 5 min, could you kindly take a look at this project proposal? I need a second pair of eyes on it.
Side note: “to have a second pair of eyes / to have another pair of eyes” on something means you’d be happy if someone could look at your work to check that it’s good and to ensure that you didn’t overlook anything. No spelling mistakes, typos or something bigger. This could be for an email, another written document, or a graphic design piece. Think of it like asking for a second opinion.
If you’re available in the next 5 min, could you kindly call Grandmother. She’s been hoping to speak with you.
Do you think you could help me with ….
Do you think you could help me with this math equation? It’s a total mind-bender!
Do you think you could help me with cooking dinner tonight? I’ve got a lot on my plate.
Side note, “to have a lot on one’s plate” means to have a lot to do and are thus feeling a bit overwhelmed. Imagine filling your plate so fully that it’s hard to carry let alone to eat!
Would you be able to help me with ….
Would you be able to help me with packing? I don’t know what to bring on Safari!
Would you be able to help me with the groceries? I’m hosting a dinner party this weekend and I don’t
Can you …
Can you have a look at this graphic I created? I’d love your opinion.
Can you do the laundry this weekend? That’d be a huge help.
Would it be possible to ….
Would it be possible to order take out this weekend, I have a lot of work emails to get through before Monday and no time to cook!
Would it be possible to use your phone? I left mine at home.
If you have a spare moment, could you …
If you have a spare moment, could you walk the dog? I’m in conference calls all day.
If you have a spare moment, could you tidy up the coffee spill?
Would you be open to …
Would you be open to a camping adventure in the Adirondacks?
Would you be open to throwing a party to celebrate our engagement?
Alright Advanced Learners, there you have it. Ten fabulously polite and kind ways of making requests. So ditch the demands and ask in a way that you’re more likely to get a “yes” or “sure can” out of the person you’re making the request to.
Thanks for watching and remember to subscribe for more Advanced English lessons to improve your fluency, confidence, and clarity in English!
See you in the next lesson!
Bye for now 😊