6. Polite requests

6. Polite requests

Bill controls his class

Main practice:  Polite Requests - Stating a Preference
Revision:             Past Continuous

The language is neutral or formal.
Would you mind....?
Do you think you could possibly...? 

*Also used when speakers don't feel comfortable asking a question, i.e. asking for a favour, or  
  to borrow money.


Would + pronoun + mind + ing  /   if  - a request, i.e.
  • Would you mind looking after the children for half an hour while I go shopping?
  • Would you mind cooking lunch, I'm a bit tired?
  • Would you mind if John came to the party too?
* The exact meaning here is would the listener object, and can be in the negative, i.e.
Would you mind not smoking in the house, please?

Could + pronoun + please + infinitive…?  - i.e
Could you please help me clear up the house?
Could you please not put your feet on the coffee table?

pronoun + rather that + pronoun + simple past… (formal) - i.e.
  • She'd rather we finished the project before we take a holiday.
  • I'd rather that you didn't use your phone at the dinner table.

Do you think you could / could you possibly + infinitive…? - i.e.
Do you think you could possibly drive me to the airport tomorrow?
Could you possibly lend me twenty pounds?


Bill is a history teacher in a high school. He's teaching a class about the Industrial Revolution but some of his students are not behaving well. 

Complete the sentences. 

Bill:   Right, today we continue with our study of the Industrial Revolution.
            Excuse me, John,  putting that phone away, please?

John:  But, Sir, I was checking information about the Industrial Revolution.

Bill:    Fine, but right now you did that by listening to
             Amanda's presentation. 

John.   Okay, Sir.

Bill:     All right, so today we focus on the textile industry. We'll begin with
              an excellent presentation that Amanda has put together for us.
              Now, students sitting at the sides of the room
              move into the centre so you can see the screen easily. Thank you.

Susan: Sir, Jason keeps kicking my chair.

Bill:     Jason, stop doing that?

Jason:   I'll think about it, Sir.

Bill:      I was just being polite. Jason, stop it or you'll have a one hour
             *detention, okay?

Jason:   Yes, Sir.

Bill:      And?

Jason:  Sorry, Sir.

Bill:      Right. Thank you, Amanda, please begin your presentation.

* A punishment whereby British school-children have to stay behind after school.


Complete the sentences.

could you please X 2  -  I'd rather  -  would you mind

A restaurant manager is speaking to staff.

Thank you for coming to the staff meeting. I won't keep you long. But there are a few problems we need to * sort out. Firstly, make sure you are here for your shift fifteen minutes before time so you are not late starting in the restaurant. Secondly, not smoking in the staff room as most of our staff are non-smokers. If you need to smoke please go outside. Also, waiters, you did not park your cars in the customer car park and, finally, make sure that your shirts are clean for every shift so I don't have to check. That's all, thank you, everyone.

* (to) sort out - (phrasal verb) to solve a problem; to organize something