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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)

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More English speaking lessons
Meeting people
Telling time
Asking about health
Asking people to repeat
Getting people's attention and offering apologies
Names and titles
Wishing people
Saying Thanks
Saying Please
Meals, drinking
Feel like
Being polite



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