Themes > Banking > Polite speech
Polite speech


At work we often have to ask people to do things for us. We may need their help urgently or it may be a minor matter. The language we use to make such requests will be different, depending on the importance of the thing requested. We are more formal and less definite if we are asking another person to make big efforts for us.

Our language also, of course, reflects the relationship we have with another person. If we are asking a stranger or our boss to do something for us, we choose language which is much more formal and less definite (weaker) than when speaking to a colleague in our office or a friend.

Exercise 1

Look at the situations below. In each case you need to ask someone to do something for you. What do you say?
The first one is already done for you.

Press the "Suggestion" button to see one possible answer. There are, of course, several possibilities for each situation.

1. You've lost your calculator. Ask a colleague to lend you his.
Could you lend me your calculator, please? I've lost mine.
2. You want your secretary to type a letter for you.

3. You want somebody in your department to finish writing a report for you by Friday.

4. You can't meet Pat Hoskins tomorrow because you've suddenly got to go to Paris on business. Ask a colleague to meet Pat Hoskins instead.

5. You want your friend to get you a coffee.

6. You can't attend the meeting tomorrow because you have a doctor's appointment. Ask your boss to postpone the meeting.

Exercise 2

Look at the response phrases below. Is it possible to use all of them with the requests above?

Yeah, OK. No, not at all. Certainly. Yes, of course. Yes, all right.

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