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Do you use a different way to make a request depending on whether you are speaking to a friend or a teacher?
I certainly do. While talking to my teacher, in order to show my good manners, I would use more indirect and polite words and expressions. But with a friend, I’d use more direct words or expressions for sure.
What factors affect the way you make a request?
One factor is the age difference between me and the person I’m talking to. With my elders, I use more polite and formal language to make a request, but I’m more direct and informal with my friends. Another factor is the weight of the favor.
If I need to borrow some money from a friend or ask a special favor, I’ll use more polite expressions. But if I just want to borrow a pen or something not so important, I will make a direct and informal request.
In everyday interactions, we often need other people’s help, and when we do, it is important to know the correct way to ask for it. Making a request properly will not only determine whether we actually obtain the help we need, but, more importantly, affect the attitude that people have toward us.
Making requests, in other words, involves an understanding of etiquette — or politeness. In making requests in English, it is necessary to learn not only certain words and expressions, but also how to use them appropriately. First of all, the way you ask will depend on the social distance between yourself and the other person.
For instance, if you are asking a teacher for help, you will probably use more indirect and more formal words than if you are asking a close friend or relative. Second, the language you use will depend on the weight of the favor.
If you are making a special request from even a close friend, say to borrow several thousand dollars, you will probably use more polite language than if you are merely asking to borrow a pen.
Even with these guidelines, it can sometimes be hard to know how to make a request, especially in “ sticky ” situations. For instance, if you want a stranger to keep quiet in a movie theater, you might want to give him a direct command rather than make a request in order to show how annoyed you are.
However, even in this case, you will probably get better results if you ask him to quiet down in a polite and considerate way. The most polite requests generally use the expression “Would you mind...?” or “Do you mind...?” For example:
1. Would you mind if I borrow(ed) your electronic dictionary? Would you mind lending me this book? Do you mind if I turn the radio off? Do you mind turning the TV down?
Requests that are slightly less formal, but still indirect and polite, begin with “Would you,” “Could you,” or “Can you.” “Please” can be added for additional politeness. Notice that these requests are still in the form of a question.
2. Would you (please) speak more quietly? Could you speak more loudly, (please)? Can you (please) speak more slowly?
If you want to be more direct, you can make your request in the form of an imperative sentence rather than a question. In this case, you can retain a sense of politeness by adding the word “please.”
3. Please put the books on the table over there. If you want to give an order, or a direct command, then you can delete the “please.” Put the books over there, please.
The following are most often used when someone is impatient or irritated : 4. Sit down, would you? I can’t see the television! Sit down! I can’t see!
DIALOGUES 1. Katherine asks a favor of her uncle, who owns a computer store. Katherine: Excuse me, Uncle Joe, can I ask you a favor? Uncle Joe: What is it?
Katherine: you mind helping me set up a new program on my computer? I can’t figure out how to do it. Uncle Joe: Sure, but can you wait until tomorrow evening? Katherine: Of course. I know you’re busy, but would
Uncle Joe: O.K., I’ll stop by tomorrow about seven. Katherine: Thanks so much! I really appreciate your help.
2. Marge, a supervisor at Burger King, is talking to the employees. Marge: Excuse me, Ben, could you go clean up those tables over there? Ben: Sure, but would you mind waiting a few minutes? A man just spilled his drink in front of the counter, and I need to mop it up.
Marge: That’s all right. I’ll ask Frank.... Frank, clean up those tables over there, please. Frank: O.K.! No problem!
3. Richard is talking to his classmate Winnie. Richard: Gee, I don’t suppose you could loan me a hundred dollars, could you? I forgot to bring my wallet to school today.
Winnie: Gosh, I don’t have much money myself today. It’s the end of the week, and my mom hasn’t given me my allowance yet. Richard: then, so I can take the bus home? Winnie: Sure. Here you go. Richard: Winnie: Don’t worry about it! Could you lend me just 30 dollars Thanks! I’ll pay you back tomorrow.
4. Allen is watching TV when his mother comes into the room. Mother: Grandma is here to visit, and she has a big suitcase to bring upstairs. She needs some help. Allen: O.K., just a minute.... Mother: Allen, did you hear me? Please go help your grandma.
Allen: All right.... I will...in a minute. Mother: Get up right now, would you? Go help your grandmother! That’s an order! Allen: O.K.! O.K.! Sorry!
5. Pauline and Robert are in a restaurant sitting in the non-smoking section when a man at the next table lights up a cigarette. Pauline: Can you believe that? He is totally ignoring the no-smoking sign.
Robert: Yeah, and it smells terrible. We really should just tell him to put that thing out. Pauline: I know, but I don’t think I have the guts to tell him. Why don’t we ask the waitress? Robert: Good idea... Excuse me, miss. Waitress:Yes, can I get you something?
Robert: I’m sorry, but would you mind asking that man not to smoke? We can barely breathe. Waitress:I’ll see what I can do. (Walks over to the smoker) Excuse me, sir. I’m awfully sorry, but I’m afraid this is a non-smoking section. If you’d like, I can move you to another table.
Smoker:Oh, I’m sorry. I completely forgot! I’ll put it out right away. Waitress:Thank you. Pauline and Robert: Thank you!
6. Don asks for some help from his colleague Frank. Don: Say, Frank, do you think you could help me get this projector set up for the meeting this morning? Frank: I wish I could, Don, but I’ve got to finish up this report before 9:30. I haven’t got a minute to spare.
Don: Oh, O.K. Sorry to bother you. Frank: No problem. Maybe you could ask Richard. I think he’s free this morning. Don: That’s all right. I guess I can manage it myself.
determine [ d0't"m0n ] v. [T, I] to decide; to control or influence directly 決定 They have determined that the conference will be held as scheduled.
obtain [ Db'ten ] v. [T] to get 獲得 I obtained a very clear result with these experiments.
involve [ 0n'vAlv ] v. [T] to make necessary; to include (someone or something) in something 需要；使‥‥‥涉及 An accurate analysis involves intensive study.
command [ kD'm$nd ] n. [C, U] an order 命令 Did he give a command to tear down the wall?
annoyed [ D'nC0d ] adj. angry 惱怒的 She was very annoyed with me because I hadn’t told her about it earlier.
considerate [ kDn's0dDr0t ] adj. caring about the feelings of other people 體諒的 It was considerate of you to treat him that way.
slightly [ 'sla0tl0 ] adv. to some degree 稍微 This jacket is slightly more expensive than the red one.
additional [ D'd0NDn9 ] adj. extra; further 額外的；添加的 Will there be an extra charge for additional passengers?
imperative [ 0m'pGrDt0v ] adj. (in grammar) expressing a command 祈使的；命令式的 “Please come over here, Henry” is an imperative sentence.
retain [ r0'ten ] v. [T] to keep 保持 He managed to retain control of the car on the icy road.
sense [ sGns ] n. [C, U] feeling 感覺 My brother has a good sense of direction. He seldom gets lost.
delete [ d0'lit ] v. [T, I] to cross out 刪除 Miss Lin asked me to delete some words from my composition.
impatient [ 0m'peNDnt ] adj. annoyed 不耐煩的（ patient 的相反詞） He became impatient because he had waited a long time without anyone paying attention to him.
irritated [ '0rD`tet0d ] adj. feeling annoyed and impatient 生氣的；激怒的 She got irritated at his impolite behavior.
supervisor [ 'supQ`va0zQ ] n. [C] a person who watches over work to see that it is done properly 監督者 Bob got a full-time job as a supervisor at that furniture factory.
spill [ sp0l ] v. [T, I] to accidentally pour liquid out of a container 灑出；溢出 I’m sorry I spilled some coffee on the carpet. It’s no use crying over spilt milk.
loan [ lon ] v. [T] to lend 借 Martha, could you loan me your camera? I need to take some pictures.
totally [ 'tot90 ] adv. very, completely 全然；完全地 Her opinion was totally different from the others’.
awfully [ 'Cf90 ] adv. (informal) very 非常；十分 I’m awfully sorry that I caused you so much trouble.
colleague [ 'kAlig ] n. [C] a person whom one works with 同事；同僚 Tom and I have been colleagues for years. I enjoy working with him.
spare [ spGr ] v. [T] to give (time, money, or space) to someone 給予 Can you spare me a few minutes? I need to discuss this matter with you.