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Thread: Asking questions in a polite way

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Shanghai, China
    Native language
    Mandarin
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    59

    Asking questions in a polite way

    Hi all,

    If I'm going to ask someone, whom I'm not quite familiar with, about some knowledge or information I don't know, and I wish to ask in a very polite way to show my respect, then, how should I ask?

    Shall I say " can you enlighten me ...." or " can you teach me.... ?"

    thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Native language
    English - Australia
    Posts
    307

    Re: Asking questions in a polite way

    You could also use "can you help me understand...?".
    It's always good to use please as well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New York
    Native language
    English Northeast USA
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    639

    Re: Asking questions in a polite way

    Hello Ashbury,
    Your suggestions are just fine.
    You could also ask, "Will you please tell me (show me, explain)...?"
    "Will you be so kind as to explain....?"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    New York
    Native language
    USA - English
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    57
    Posts
    12,674

    Re: Asking questions in a polite way

    I'm sorry, ashbury, but I would find both your suggestions odd. The usual way to make a request polite is to add the word "please"; you might also try a conditional tense. I would say:

    Could you please tell me who King Aethelred the Unready was?
    Could you please explain to me how a steam engine works?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Shanghai, China
    Native language
    Mandarin
    Posts
    59

    Re: Asking questions in a polite way

    Thank you!
    I've learned that "please" is a very effective word

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