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Polite Requests

Average: 3.4 (255 votes)

Asking to do things – asking for permission

There are many different ways of making polite requests in English. If you don't want to sound rude when speaking English, then you need to know how to make a request in a polite way.Requests in English are usually made in the form of questions

Asking Saying Yes Saying No
Can I...? Yes, sure Well, I'm afraid...+ reason

Could I...?
Could I possibly...?
Is it all right if I...?
Do you think I could...?

Yes, of course.
Yes, that's fine.
Well, the problem is...
Do you mind if I...? No, not at all.
No, of course not.
Sorry, but...

Asking others to do things – making requests

Asking Saying Yes Saying No
Can you...? Yes, sure. Well, I'm afraid + reason
Could you...?
Is it all right if you...?
Do you think you could...?
Will you...?
Would you...?
Yes, of course.
Well, the problem is
Sorry, but...

Do you mind -ing...?
Would you mind -ing...?

No, not at all.
Of course not.


Use 'Would you mind if I...? Could I possibly...? Could you possibly...? Do you think you could...? to sound more polite.

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'.

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school

Choose the correct alternative for the following:

  • 1. _ I borrow a pen, please?

  • 2. 'I've forgotten my wallet.' - Don't worry. I _ lend you some money if you like.

  • 3. _ you like to come to the cinema tonight?

  • 4. Do you mind _ the window please?

  • 5. Would you mind _ me with these boxes?

  • 6. _ I left early tomorrow morning? I have a doctor's appointment.