Being polite in English
Although spoken English is quite informal, formal language is used when you wish to be polite.
- Could you please tell me the time, please? (Much more polite than ‘Please tell me the time’.)
- Would you please move a bit?
- Could you wait a little longer?
A common way of making requests and questions more polite is to use past verb forms like would and could.
- Could you please open the window? (More polite than ‘Can you please open the window?’)
Another way of making requests more polite is to use yes/no questions.
- It would be better to paint it green. (Direct suggestion)
- Wouldn’t it be better to paint it green? (Yes/no question – very polite)