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Thread: polite question

  1. #1
    inorderto is offline Junior Member
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    Default polite question

    1/ "Where is the police station?"
    2/ "Do you know where the police station is?"
    3/ "You wouldn't know where the police station is, would you?"


    Among these sentences about which one is the most polite question?
    Which one is the most common in daily conversation?
    Thanks a lot.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: polite question

    The most polite, and easy off the tongue, is:
    "You wouldn't happen to know where the police station is, would you?"

    Let the more uncouth in our midst disagree. Surely, you can't get more polite than that!

    More seriously, how you phrase this depends on the situation. If you accost (approach and talk to) a stranger in the street, then you need to be at your most polite, and precede the above with, " Excuse me, but you wouldn't happen..."

    Other posters might like to suggest the phrasing for various other situations, such as having booked into a hotel, and asking the receptionist whom you already chatted with.
    Last edited by David L.; 08-Dec-2008 at 17:43.

  3. #3
    inorderto is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: polite question

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    The most polite, and easy off the tongue, is:
    "You wouldn't happen to know where the police station is, would you?"

    Let the more uncouth in our midst disagree. Surely, you can't get more polite than that!

    More seriously, how you phrase this depends on the situation. If you accost (approach and talk to) a stranger in the street, then you need to be at your most polite, and precede the above with, " Excuse me, but you wouldn't happen..."

    Other posters might like to suggest the phrasing for various other situations, such as having booked into a hotel, and asking the receptionist whom you already chatted with.
    What you said is very new for me. Up to now, I always say that:

    Excuse me, could you show/tell me the way to the police station please.

    Is this a polite sentence?

    Thanks David.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: polite question

    ...and you would be quite correct, and polite. You have raised an interesting distinction between my sentence (my actual phrasing) and the use of 'would' and 'could' when making a request.

    Let's see what ideas others may have!

    What's the difference when you begin a request with, "Could you...?" versus "Would you...?"

  5. #5
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: polite question

    Pesonally I would say; 'Excuse me but you wouldn't happen to know...'
    'Excuse me, could you tell me the way...' is also good.

  6. #6
    inorderto is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: polite question

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    ...and you would be quite correct, and polite. You have raised an interesting distinction between my sentence (my actual phrasing) and the use of 'would' and 'could' when making a request.

    Let's see what ideas others may have!

    What's the difference when you begin a request with, "Could you...?" versus "Would you...?"
    What's the difference when you begin a request with, "Could you...?" versus "Would you...?"

    Dear David:
    Frankly, I did not know any difference between them except a small distinction is that a request starts with "could you" is more polite than the one starts with "would you".
    I would be more than happy to know more from you.
    Thanks David.

  7. #7
    inorderto is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: polite question

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Pesonally I would say; 'Excuse me but you wouldn't happen to know...'
    'Excuse me, could you tell me the way...' is also good.
    Dear bhaisahab,
    To be honest, for me, as a non-native English speaking student, I have a kind of feeling that what you personally would say 'Excuse me but you wouldn't happen to know...' is kind of less natural than "Excuse me could you tell me ....". That is just a feeling of non-native English speaker.
    But I would to like to learn to speak English such as it sounds natural to a native one rather than to a non-native one like me. LOL

    Thanks bhaisahab.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: polite question

    There are many natural ways to ask, some more polite than others, some equally polite but worded differently; 'Excuse me could you tell me...' is both polite and natural.

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