Could you speak (more) slowly?

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easychen

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

Someone is talking very fast and I can hardly follow, so should I say"Could you speak slowly?" or "Could you speak more slowly"?

P.S. I was told that using "Could you speak more slowly" sounds more politically correct, and "Could you speak slowly" would make the speaker uncomfortable. But I'm not sure about it.
 
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    I can't imagine being made uncomfortable by a non-native speaker asking me to speak more slowly, regardless of their phrasing.

    As to your question, I think it has more to do with how comparatives function than political correctness. "More slowly" requests a speed slower than what they were using previously, whereas "slowly" requests a speed which would be considered objectively slow.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    And what sounds better:

    "Could you speak
    more slowly"


    "Could you speak slowlier"?
    Hi Budspok
    With adverbs like slowly - adverbs formed from adjectives by adding -ly to the end - we make the comparative and superlative using more and most.

    So:
    "Could you speak more slowly":tick:
    "Could you speak slowlier":cross:
     

    easychen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I can't imagine being made uncomfortable by a non-native speaker asking me to speak more slowly, regardless of their phrasing.

    As to your question, I think it has more to do with how comparatives function than political correctness. "More slowly" requests a speed slower than what they were using previously, whereas "slowly" requests a speed which would be considered objectively slow.
    Thank you xqby!

    I thought "more slowly" was tinged with "a polite hint," and "slowly" alone was not.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I see "Could you speak more slowly" as much the politer of the two. "Could you speak slowly" can sound a little abrupt but that could be lessened by voice and delivery, of course ... along with a "please."
     

    Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I would definitely prefer to be asked to speak "more slowly" than just "slowly."
    The first is a polite request; the second has a suggestion of criticism about it.
    "Slowlier" sounds very wrong to me, like a child learning to speak English.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Myridon has a point. "Slowly" implies that there is some rate of speech which is fast, and some other one which is slow, and you want them to use the second one. "More slowly" just means "slower than the rate you are now using."
     

    Archstudent

    Senior Member
    English - North London
    How about: Could you slow down?

    You could qualify this by adding: I can't understand, or I cannot follow.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    "Could you speak slowly?"
    might get the answer
    "I am already speaking slowly!" :)
    That response sounds like it might have a tone of impatience - the person asking for the slowdown presumably would not have asked if they thought the speaker was already speaking slowly. The speaker, however, may feel they don't want to cooperate by speaking even more slowly than they felt they had been. Either way, the "more slowly" version implies it is the listener who needs help and is asking politely. All pending any additional context, of course!
     
    Last edited:

    brunaa

    Senior Member
    Portuguese(BR)- English(US) bilingual
    I would definitely request the person to speak more slowly, but the whole discussion made me wonder if ask to speak 'slower' (as the comparative of slow (adj)) would work.

    - Could you speak slower please?:confused:
     

    Archstudent

    Senior Member
    English - North London
    Grammatically incorrect. You cannot speak slow (adjective for adverb), so you cannot speak slower either.

    In my view, the most comfortable would be to say can/could you slow down, or can/could you speak more slowly.
     
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