How to Sound More Polite in English!

When "Please" isn't enough...

For many English as a second language speakers, not sounding too blunt or direct when making a request or asking a question is a big concern- no one wants be thought of as 'rude' when they're not trying to be!  

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as just adding "please" to your request-- "Please give it to me," can still sound pretty abrupt and demanding!  Today, we'll look at some "linguistic tools" you can use to sound a bit 'softer' and more polite when making requests!

The Importance of Modal Verbs

A great 'tool' in your toolbox for sounding more polite is to change your statements into questions by adding modal verbs and phrases.  Let's take a look at a few examples:

Please give me the keys▶️  Could you please give me the keys?

Let's leave now.  ▶️  Why don't we leave now?

 Send me the files please. ▶️ If you could send me the files, that would be great.

We should leave in a few minutes. ▶️ We may want to think about leaving in a few.

For each of these requests, we've used a 'modal phrase' that helps 'soften' it in order to ask for the person's consent.  You might notice that some of our new polite requests are in question form and some are still in statement form.  

Here are some useful 'starter phrases' for polite questions and statements:

Exercise

Try to make the below sentences more polite. You can see possible answers below in the comments section.

1.) "Please give me the remote." [make into a polite statement]

2.) "You should attend the meeting." [make into a polite question]

3.) "Could you complete this for me?" [make into a polite question]

4.) "I think you should notify John." [make into a polite statement]

Check out Answers below in the Comments Section!

If you want to work more on this topic, sign up for a Spoken Lesson here and tell your coach you want to try a modal verb lesson!