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  1. #1
    GeneD is offline Senior Member
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    polite requests in informal settings

    I'm aware of the polite formulas, such as "would you", "could you" and so on, which can be used for making requests, but I have the following question anyway. Do you use such formulas when in informal settings, for instance, among friends? The thing is, we use them in Russian as well, but definitely not in informal way. For example, with friends we would unlikely say "Would you mind opening the window, please?"; it would be too much. The bare imperative would do in most cases. But what about English? Could you help me solve this mystery, please?

  2. #2
    teechar's Avatar
    teechar is offline Moderator
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    Re: polite requests in informal settings

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneD View Post
    Do you use such formulas when in informal settings, for instance, among friends?
    Yes, absolutely! Politeness is good in formal/informal situations.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneD View Post
    ... in Russian the bare imperative would do in most cases. But what about English?
    That's not usually the case in English.

  3. #3
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is online now Moderator
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    Re: polite requests in informal settings

    In BrE, the imperative would seem fairly impolite even amongst friends, but I would say "Can you open the window?" I wouldn't bother with "Would you" and I doubt I'd use "please".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. #4
    andrewg927 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: polite requests in informal settings

    In AE, I find "would you", "could you" and "can you" all appropriate among friends but I would more likely use "can you".

  5. #5
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    Lynxear is offline Senior Member
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    Re: polite requests in informal settings

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    In BrE, the imperative would seem fairly impolite even amongst friends, but I would say "Can you open the window?" I wouldn't bother with "Would you" and I doubt I'd use "please".


    Canadians are known to be overly polite. In this country saying this without adding "please" it would not seem to be a request but rather it could be construed to be a demand.

    Depending on the tone of the statement without the "please" I might respond as follows:

    Can you open the window?
    Yes, I can. (and not actually open the window if I did not like the person).

    We also consider "could" to be a more polite way of making a request.

    Could you open the window, please?

    Even without the word "please" this is viewed as more polite and less of a demand.

    Originally Posted by GeneD

    For example, with friends we would unlikely say "Would you mind opening the window, please?"; it would be too much.
    Speaking again from a Canadian point of view, we have no problem wording the request this way. Actually, if you really wanted that window open, this is the most polite way you can make such a request. It is also the form of request that would almost never be refused.
    Experience is recognizing a mistake the second time you make it.
    You don't go to an Englishman when you want good pierogi.

    - Wisdom from my father

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