The degree of politeness

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LesYeuxNoirz
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The degree of politeness

Post by LesYeuxNoirz » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:33 pm

Hi guys!

I work for an English speaking company and we've got a kind of knowledge base. I noticed that they're really abusing the "could you please" phrase in their requests.

At university, I was taught that the phrase is kinda too polite and I actually haven't come accross it too much while watching TV series/reading relatively new articles, books, etc. or merely communicating with native speakers. It seems that even when the situation presupposes a certain degree of politeness, people use either "can you please" or "could you".

Today I meantioned it to my co-workers but they disagreed saying it was fine to use that phrase in every request. I'm absolutely positive towards constructive feedback meaning if I'm incorrect, I'd be very grateful if a native speaker could provide enlighten me on this matter.

Thank you in advance!

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Joe
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Re: The degree of politeness

Post by Joe » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:49 pm

The degree of politeness is heavily influenced by context, including whether written or spoken. Could you please explain how this phrase is used and give a few examples?

Btw, I used it above automatically (without thinking) and not deliberately.
"We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood :-| " — Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood

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LesYeuxNoirz
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Re: The degree of politeness

Post by LesYeuxNoirz » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:00 pm

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your post :)

Well, the phrase is mostly used while communicating with the users of our app. The communication itself is always in the written form. Btw, we're trying to stick to the semi-formal style in the process.

LesYeuxNoirz
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Re: The degree of politeness

Post by LesYeuxNoirz » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:02 pm

As for the requested examples, please have a look at the ones below:

-Could you please send/provide us with [something]?
-Could you please specify [something]?
-Could you please add [something] in the app?

Hope these examples will help you better understand the context.

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Joe
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Re: The degree of politeness

Post by Joe » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:11 pm

In the context you provide, the "Could you please" formula seems perfectly correct and acceptable. If, however, it's repeated several times in the same communication it might be over the top.

So, for example, instead of...

Could you please send/provide us with [something]? Could you also please specify [something]?

other wording might be appropriate, such as...

Could you please send/provide us with [something]? Please also specify [something].

However, if, as I understand you to suggest, you deliberately WANT to be LESS formal, then you can take it all down a notch by using "Can you please", "Could you" etc.

Minor detail:

"Could you please specify [something]?" is very polite.

"Could you please specify [something]." (no question-mark) is marginally less polite/formal because it's more like an instruction than a question.
"We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood :-| " — Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood

eBooks: English Prepositions List | Essential Business Words | Learn English in Seven

LesYeuxNoirz
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Re: The degree of politeness

Post by LesYeuxNoirz » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:00 pm

Thanks so much for your explanation and examples. It's much clearer now :)

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