How would you vs Can you

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Haru56

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Dear teachers,

I am learning to be a medical interpreter.

1. How would you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?
2. Can you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?

Which is more common in clinical practice?
Is there any difference in nuance between the two?
 

emsr2d2

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Dear teachers,

I am learning to be a medical interpreter.

1. How would you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?
2. Can you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?

Which is more common in clinical practice?
Is there any difference in nuance between the two?

Sentence 2 simply means "Are you able to rate your pain...?" to which the answer might simply be "Yes" or "No". Not very helpful!

I would say that either Sentence 1, or "Please rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10" would be better.

Please note that I don't work in medicine, but I've been asked the question many times! :)
 

Haru56

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Dear Gillnetter and emsr2d2,

Thank you very much for your explanations.
They are very helpful!

I thought that "Can you rate your pain on ~" is a sort of polite way of saying "Rate your pain on ~" like "Can you pass me the cheese?”....
 

emsr2d2

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Dear Gillnetter and emsr2d2,

Thank you very much for your explanations.
They are very helpful!

I thought that "Can you rate your pain on ~" is a sort of polite way of saying "Rate your pain on ~" like "Can you pass me the cheese?”....

It is more polite and is frequently used, but from a purely grammatical point of view, you are not asking the person to actually do the action, you are simply asking them if they are able to.

The more polite form of "Pass me the cheese" should be "Would you pass me the cheese [please]", not "Can you..."
 

bertietheblue

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Add 'please' to the end of 'Can you rate ...?' and it becomes a request and so passable (though 'Could you rate ...?' would be better). However, I'd stick to no. 1 as a straightforward question.
 

Haru56

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Dear emsr2d2 and bertietheblue,
.
Thank you very much for your explanations.
I think I finally fully understand the differences among "can", "could" and "would".

I am so glad to have found this site. I'm sure I will come back again.
 
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