Hi there, I have a question regarding the usage of cancouldwould. I know can Is less polite when it is used to request people to do things. I know would and could also be used in a more polite way. But can I interchange would and could when making requests to people.

Here are some examples:

1a- Helen, would you please be quiet? I am trying to concentrate?
1b- Helen, could you please be quiet? I am trying to concentrate?
1c- Helen, can you please be quiet? I am trying to concentrate? (I know this one is not so polite.)

2a- Hello sir, can you please tell me where the bank is?
2b- Hello sir, could you please tell me where the bank is?
2c- Hello sir, would you please tell me where the bank is?

3a- Could you please email me the directions to your house?

3b- Would you please email me the directions to your house?

So when making requests in a polite manner can I use would and could interchangeably in sentences like these ?

Original Post

To me, most of the time, "Would you..." and "Could you..." are equally polite if we don't split hairs.

If you ask a teacher to help you with a problem, "Would you..." may be more appropriate. "Could you..."  may sound like something associated with his/her ability of solving the problem. On other occasion, "Would you..." may sound like an order.  

So it depends on many factors, such as your tone of voice, the mindset of the listener, etc.

(a non-native)

subhajit123 posted:
So when making requests in a polite manner can I use would and could interchangeably in sentences like these ?

Hi, Subhajit,

Yes, would and could can be used interchangeably in making polite requests. As a native speaker, I tend naturally to use could in such requests when I am out in public and actually making such requests in circumstances that are not very formal.

I find would to be a tad more formal and/or serious than could in such requests, but that is something that could easily be debated among native speakers. I do use would occasionally in such requests. You are right that can is less polite. The same thing could be said about will, which is also possible.

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×