Polite English

In today’s blog post we will learn all about how to ask or request something in a way that is more polite in English by using a few verbal phrases and different conjugation strategies! This skill can be useful not only for navigating everyday life situations with ease but also at work when writing email to colleagues that you need to request information from!

Generally, in English, in order to be seen as more polite, it is a good idea to try and refrain from being to direct when requesting information or assistance. There are of course a group of polite words that we can tac on to the beginning or end of sentences to make them more polite:

  • Excuse me
    • This is great to use right before asking a question!
    • Ie: Excuse me, do you know how to get to the cafe in town?
  • Please
    • This is great to add onto the end of a sentence when you are asking for something in a short phrase.
    • Ie: I would like one brioche please!
  • Thank you
    • We use when someone has completed an action for us.
    • Here is an example based off of the previous scenario:
      • Waiter: Here is your brioche.e
      • You: Thank you so much!

We can use the auxiliary verbs would, could, and should instead of verbs like can and will. Here are some examples of all three:

Instead of saying: Will you bring my my luggage?

You could say:  Would you bring me my luggage?

*** if you wanted to make it even more polite you could use the verbal phrase “would you mind + verb  with gerund”. Would you mind means would you be willing to do this?

For example: Would you mind bringing me my luggage?


Instead of saying: Can I have a pizza?

Say: Could I have a pizza please?


Instead of saying: Brush your teeth more!

Say:  I think, maybe, you should brush your teeth more.


The fun of this is that you can combine a mixture of all of these strategies to make sentences extra polite! Here are some examples of some seriously polite senteces using combinations:


  • Go to bed earlier!
    • I think it could be a good idea if you went go to bed earlier.
  • Bring me my purse!
    • Excuse me, but would you mind bringing me my purse please?
  • Where is the metro?
    • Excuse me, but do you happen to know where the metro is?

      Polite English quiz

      Now try to pick the polite version of these sentences! Note that you can communicate these sentences politely in more than one way. However, in the options below there is only one polite sentence to choose!

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