Polite Requests: Modals and Would you mind

Roy and Ann two co workers meet waiting for the elevator.

Roy: Hello Ann.

Ann: Hi Roy. What are all those boxes you're carrying?

Roy: Oh, its the order for our office. I picked them up downstairs. Would you mind pushing fifteen for me?

Ann: Sure, no problem. Anything else?

Roy: Could you grab the top box? I think it’s going to fall off.

Ann: Oh, there you go. Is that better?

Roy: Whew. Yeah, thanks. Hey, can you just hold the door while I get out?

Ann: OK, there you go.

Roy: Oh, thanks for your help. We can just leave them by the reception now.

Grammar Notes

Point 1: 'Can', 'could' and 'would' can all be used for polite requests with an infinitive without 'to' (V1).
  1. Can you hold the door for me?
  2. Could you throw this in the trash?
  3. Would you get my pen for me?
Point 2: 'Would you mind' can be used to make a polite request with a gerund.
  1. Would you mind opening the door for me?
  2. Would you mind taking this package to the post office?
Point 3: Order of politeness.
  • Can you (least polite)
  • Could you
  • Would you
  • Would you (most polite)

Note: Add please for politeness.

  • Can you turn the TV off, please?
  • Would you mind driving me to the airport, please?
Point 4: When answer polite requests, we usually do not say 'Yes' or 'No!' We use special phrases

To reply 'Yes' you can say:

  • Sure
  • Of course
  • I would be glad to
  • Here you go / Here are you

To reply 'No' we might say the following:

  • I'm sorry, but I am busy.
  • I would rather not.
Answer these questions about the interview.

Keep Learning

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the gaps with the words listed below. Change the form as needed.
turn • read • lend
open • give
  1. Would you mind the door?
  2. Can you on the TV?
  3. Would you this box to the boss?
  4. Would you mind this memo I wrote?
  5. Could you me some money?