How To Ask For Something Politely In English

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  • Post last modified:01/05/2024
  • Post category:Real English
  • Reading time:14 mins read

How to ask for something politely in English? Boost your English skills by learning how to make polite requests just like a native speaker!

This lesson is ideal for intermediate learners looking to improve their confidence and master daily conversations. Learning how to ask for something politely in English will help you communicate more clearly and confidently. 

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Key English Phrases

How To Ask For Something Politely In English

In this advanced lesson, we focus on mastering polite requests in English, a crucial skill for non-native speakers looking to improve their fluency and etiquette. I’ll guide you through specific polite expressions and provide practical examples to help you use them effectively in everyday conversations in English.

Learning these polite phrases is essential for enhancing your English communication, particularly in professional and social settings. It boosts your vocabulary and increases your confidence when speaking with native speakers. By practising these polite forms of requests, you’ll be able to handle various interactions more smoothly, from business meetings to casual conversations.

Can you..?

Meaning: a straightforward and courteous way to make requests; more suitable for casual conversations 


Can you turn down the music a little?

Can you grab me a towel from the bathroom?

Can you pass the salt, please?

Can you help me with this, please?

Can you get me a new plate, please? This one seems to be a bit dirty.

Can you send me the client’s contact details?

Can you check this report?

Can you check if we can reschedule our appointment?

Would you ..?

Meaning: (more formal) it’s versatile for both casual and formal requests, ensuring respect and consideration


Would you kindly bring me a glass of water?

Would you kindly pass me the salt? 

Would you kindly forward the documents to the legal department?

Would you be able to finish this report by tomorrow?

Would you turn down the music?

Would you show me where the milk is?

Would you mind telling me where the nearest bank is?

Would you mind if I asked you a question?

How To Ask For Something Politely In English

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Do you think you could..?

Meaning: when you want to soften your request and make it less direct


Do you think you could make the meeting a little earlier? I need to leave to pick up my children.

Do you think you could copy those slides to me later? I would really appreciate it.

Do you think you could drop me off at the train station on the way home?

Would you consider..?

Meaning: (more formal) is used to politely ask someone to think about doing something, especially when you are proposing an alternative


Would you consider cancelling or postponing the launch until I have completed the research?

Would you consider inviting spouses to the party? I think everyone would really appreciate it.

Would you consider allowing flexible work hours?

Would you consider giving feedback on my draft?

I wonder/was wondering if you could

Meaning: especially helpful when you want to soften the request or when you’re not certain if the request can be fulfilled


I was wondering if you could bring the meeting forward to Thursday. I’ve got a day off on Friday.

I wonder if we could postpone the meeting until next week?

I was wondering if you could lend me some money.

I wonder if you could send me the files by tomorrow?

I wonder if you could look after the dog this weekend?

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You couldn’t ______, could you?

Meaning: the speaker understands if the request might be difficult to fulfill, but is hoping the listener can help


You couldn’t pass me the salt, could you?

You couldn’t get me a seat at the window, could you?

You couldn’t drop into my office on your
way to lunch, could you?

You couldn’t give me a ride to the airport, could you?

You couldn’t take a quick look at this, could you?

Do you mind… (+ verb -ing)

Meaning: this structure allows the other person to decline comfortably if they are unable or unwilling to fulfil the request


Do you mind sending me a message when you get there?

Do you mind calling me later to remind me about the meeting?

Do you mind washing the dishes tonight?

Do you mind picking up groceries on your way home?

Do you mind taking notes during the meeting?

Would you mind… (+ verb -ing)

Meaning: a polite way to ask for a favour or request someone to do something


Would you mind stopping by my office on your way to lunch?

Would you mind cancelling the meeting?

Would you mind helping me prepare for the presentation?

Would you mind turning down the music?

Would you mind reviewing this report for me?

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Could you…

Meaning: is generally softer and less direct than “can you,” making it suitable for both casual and formal contexts


Could you please direct me to the nearest police station?

Could you please show me where the hotel is?

Could you explain how this software works?

Could you please hold the door for me?

Would it be ok if..?

Meaning: you want to ensure that your request is convenient for the other person, acknowledging that they have the option to decline


Would it be ok if I left the office a little earlier?

Would it be ok if I asked you to complete this report by lunchtime tomorrow?

Would it be ok if you dropped off the kids on your way to work?

Would it be ok if we got a takeaway tonight? I’m absolutely exhausted.

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Possible 'Yes' Answers

Not at all!

👩🏼‍🦰 Do you mind if I delegate this task to you?

🧔🏻‍♂️ Not at all!

No problem!

👩🏼‍🦰 Could you help me with this report?

🧔🏻‍♂️ No problem.

👩🏼‍🦰 Can we postpone the meeting until the afternoon?

🧔🏻‍♂️ No problem.

I’d be glad / happy to

👩🏼‍🦰 Would you mind reviewing my presentation?

🧔🏻‍♂️ I’d be glad to!

My pleasure

👩🏼‍🦰 Could you handle the client meeting on Thursday?

🧔🏻‍♂️ My pleasure.

Possible 'No' Answers

I am sorry, but (+ reason )

I’m sorry, I would really like to help you, but my boss is coming as well. This is the only time that suits him.

I am sorry, but I’m already booked for the whole day.

I am sorry, but I need to prioritize another urgent task right now.

I am sorry, but I won’t be in town that weekend.

I would love to …, but + (reason)

I’m sorry, but I can’t because I have to go in really early this morning. But I can do it tomorrow.

I would love to drop you to the station, but I’m actually not going home tonight. I’ve got a meeting in town.

I would love to join you for lunch, but I have a previous engagement.

I would love to take on that project, but my current workload doesn’t allow it.

I would love to contribute, but I’m not the right person for this task.

I am sorry, but I can’t because + (reason)

I am sorry, but I can’t help with moving the furniture because I have a back issue.

I am sorry, but I can’t lend you the money because I’m short on funds this month.

I am sorry, but I can’t stay late today because I have to pick up my children from school.

more information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

Difference between SO and SUCH

12 English Idioms related to Communication

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC and British Council Learn English.

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