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Requesting… Usage of Can, Could and Would

When we are in need of help we try to get it from others. In the process we use certain expressions which make them feel our need and pursue them to help. The way they show the willingness to help depends on how we ask them and the way we express our need. Our tone and expression should be requesting.

We learn now various expressions that are related to requesting

What kinds of requests do we make?
That depends on the relation that we have with the other person. Some factors like the purpose of the request, the status of both speakers greatly influence the level of ‘politeness’.

With a friend
Siddu : Excuse me.
Nishi : Yes?
Siddu : Can I borrow your pencil?
Nishi : Sure. Here you go.
Siddu : Thank you.
Nishi : Welcome.

With a teacher
Siddu : Good morning Ma’m!
Teacher : Hi, Siddu. How are you doing?
Siddu : Fine, thank you. How do you do Ma’m?
Teacher : Good.
Siddu : Do you have a minute? I have completed the rough draft of the dissertation on our group’s project and I want you to correct this.

Teacher: Sure. I would appreciate it if it is in a print form instead of the manuscript.

Siddu: So can I have an appointment?
Teacher: You can meet me either during the lunch break in the College or between 8pm and 9 pm at my house
Siddu: I’ll meet you during the lunch break tomorrow. Teacher: Sounds good to me. Could you do me a favour? Could you Please post this letter.
Siddu: sure. Thank you.
Teacher: See you then.

Requests are made to ask the ability of the person (Could you…)

Between two colleagues
Siddu: Excuse me Mr. Rao
Anoop: Yes?
Siddu: I had a question about the project. I would like to discuss that with you. Are you busy today?
Anoop: I was wondering if I could have time today. How about tomorrow in your office sometime?
Siddu: Yeah, uh, my office hours tomorrow are from three to four. Do you mind coming over to my office?
Anoop: Okay, so I should stop by then?
Siddu: Yeah.
Anoop: Okay, thanks a lot. See you then.
Siddu: See you tomorrow.
  • Requests can be made in the form of a wish (I would like …) a suggestion (How about …), asking a question (Are you busy … / Do you mind …)
  • ‘Please’ will go with some expressions. Even the sentences without ‘please’ express the polite requests.
    • Would you help me in writing notes?
    • Would you please help me in writing notes?
    It is used to convert order to request.
    • Please listen to me Ram,?
  • Some times a simple change in the form of the word may change the meaning
    • I wanted to ask you…. ( polite tone)
    • I want to ask you…. ( authority)
    • I was wondering…. ( polite tone)
    • I wonder ( doubt / suspicion))
  • Some times requests are implied but not stated directly.
    • I do not have my vehicle today. (asking for a lift)
    • This plate is not clean. ( asking to change the plate)
    • I do not like eating non vegetarian
  • Some times orders are converted as requests
    • Close the door, would you? ( order converted to request)
    • Could you complete these notes for me, Siddu?
    • We would like you to show us your bag to check.
    • Can you take a seat over there, please?
    • Would you please explain why you have n’t got the pollution check
  • Will you?’ when used with friends or people with close relation expresses informal tone and does not appear as a request. In other words orders are modified as requests by adding a question tag. Most of them are imperative sentences.
    • Give me your notebook for today. Will you?
    • Take a bus to come over here. Would you?

    Requesting – politeness in order
    • Close the door. (Giving an order)
    • How about closing the door? (Suggestion)
    • Can you / could you close the door? (Asking ability and requesting)
    • Will you / would you close the door… please? (Requesting politely
    • I want you to close the door. (Showing speaker’s desire)

    In Brief
    Requests Responses
    Can I / you …?
    Could I/ you…?
    Will you…?
    Would you…?
    Do you mind…/ Would you mind
    May I…?
    Would it be / Is it okay…?
    I am / was wondering if…
    Have you got a moment/ minute..
    Do me a favour…. Please
    If you do not mind…
    I wish, You would..
    Yes, please do.
    By all means.
    Here you are…
    Of course, sorry
    Oh. I'm sorry…
    I'm afraid I can't
    Sure" (Relaxed)
    "Okay, okay.".

    • Can and could are used with a main verb without ‘to’
    • Would is used with ‘to’ and V+ ing
      Could you write the notes for me?
      Would you please help me to write the notes?
      Would you mind helping me to write the notes?
    • Could is more polite than Can
      Can you do this for me?
      Could you do this for me?
    • Would is more polite than will
      Will come with me to the market?
      Would you please come with me to the market?
    • Do you mind if…/ would you mind if… are not followed by ‘please’ because the meaning of please is already implied.
  • Published date : 01 Oct 2010 03:42PM

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