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Thread: Politeness

  1. #1
    tzfujimino's Avatar
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    Default Politeness

    Using the past tense is one of the ways to show politeness in English, I think.
    Are there any other ways?
    (Well, using "please" is another way?)

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Politeness

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Using the past tense is one of the ways to show politeness in English, I think.
    Are there any other ways?
    (Well, using "please" is another way?)

    Thank you.
    I am not sure what you mean by "using past tense" to show politeness?
    If you request something, try to say:
    1. Could you do it for me, please?
    2. Do you think you could do it for me?
    3. Would you be so kind to do it for me?
    4. Would you mind doing it for me, please?
    5. Could you do it for me, if you do not mind?
    6. Can I ask you a favour, please?
    7. Could you do me a favour, please?

    I can not think of any others.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Politeness

    Quote Originally Posted by banderas View Post
    I am not sure what you mean by "using past tense" to show politeness?
    If you request something, try to say:
    1. Could you do it for me, please?
    2. Do you think you could do it for me?
    3. Would you be so kind to do it for me?
    4. Would you mind doing it for me, please?
    5. Could you do it for me, if you do not mind?
    6. Can I ask you a favour, please?
    7. Could you do me a favour, please?

    I can not think of any others.
    Well..."could" is the past form of "can", isn't it?
    Likewise, "would" is the past form of "will."
    Maybe I shouldn't have used the term "tense"?

    Thank you.

  4. #4
    banderas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Politeness

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Well..."could" is the past form of "can", isn't it?
    Likewise, "would" is the past form of "will."
    Maybe I shouldn't have used the term "tense"?

    Thank you.
    I see your point although "could" in requests is not a past form of "can". If it was, it would mean "an ability to do something". "Could" is a way of asking a question politely in our contexts but, as I said, you are also right.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Politeness

    Quote Originally Posted by banderas View Post
    I see your point although "could" in requests is not a past form of "can". If it was, it would mean "an ability to do something". "Could" is a way of asking a question politely in our contexts but, as I said, you are also right.
    Thank you for your kindness.
    You've been a great help to me as always.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Politeness

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Using the past tense is one of the ways to show politeness in English, I think.
    Are there any other ways?
    (Well, using "please" is another way?)

    Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Well..."could" is the past form of "can", isn't it?
    Likewise, "would" is the past form of "will."
    Maybe I shouldn't have used the term "tense"?

    Thank you.
    Apart from the modals (and some teachers feel quite strongly that "would" and "could", "should" and "might" have no tense when they are modals), there is a case when the past is used to show politeness.

    If someone promised to do something, but forgot, the polite way to remind them would not be "What about those shirts? Have you forgotten?", or 'Give them back like you said you would', but rather something like this - "Maybe I dreamed the conversation, but didn't you say something about returning those shirts?" or just 'Weren't you going to return those shirts?' (you ask about your memory of the conversation, rather than accuse them of forgetting or cheating).


    b

    PS There's nothing special about shirts! I was just thinking about an incident many years ago, involving student drama and rugby shirts.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Politeness

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Apart from the modals (and some teachers feel quite strongly that "would" and "could", "should" and "might" have no tense when they are modals), there is a case when the past is used to show politeness.

    If someone promised to do something, but forgot, the polite way to remind them would not be "What about those shirts? Have you forgotten?", or 'Give them back like you said you would', but rather something like this - "Maybe I dreamed the conversation, but didn't you say something about returning those shirts?" or just 'Weren't you going to return those shirts?' (you ask about your memory of the conversation, rather than accuse them of forgetting or cheating).


    b

    PS There's nothing special about shirts! I was just thinking about an incident many years ago, involving student drama and rugby shirts.
    Thank you for the useful information, BobK.
    Now I can feel there's been a remarkable progress in my English since I first visited this website.
    I'd like to thank you all that are so kind as to respond to my question.

    Thank you again, BobK and banderas.

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