Words of Courtesy When Making Requests

In every language there are words of courtesy. Courtesy helps people connect and creates a more peaceful communicative environment. Furthermore, have you ever noticed that people just seem to respond better when we are courteous with them? Courtesy when making requests in English depends a lot on your word choices.

For example, if you say:

Give me the pen over there

It is direct and considered rude.

But, if you say:

Would you mind handing me that pen over there

It is considered polite.

Sometimes, when we learn a new language, we tend to pick up the direct speech but neglect the courteous speech. So, let's review a few expressions that will help us sound more courteous when we make requests using English.


Would you mind...

Could I ask...

Can I trouble you...


Would you mind passing the pepper.

Could I ask you to close the door.

Can I trouble you for some coffee.

NOTE: We do not use question marks with these courteous expressions because they are not interrogatives, but polite requests.
June 23, 2017