using could, can, would, will in questions

Discussion in 'English Only' started by myWord, Jan 6, 2008.

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  1. myWord New Member

    Singapore, English

    I want to ask someone to do something for me, which of the following do i use:

    1. Could you do something for me?
    2. Can you do something for me?
    3. Would you do something for me?
    4. Will you do something for me?

  2. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Canberra, Australia
    English - Australia
    Hello and welcome to the forum. :)

    To my ear, all four can be used in spoken English.

    Number 1 is very, very polite through its use of the conditional, whereas 2 is slightly more forceful (but still quite polite if said nicely).

    I would use 3 and 4 in slightly more familiar contexts, and the same applies as above (3 is politer, less forceful than 4, to an extent).
  3. scotu Senior Member

    Paradise: LaX.Nay.Mex.
    Chicago English
    In normal usage all are equivalent, Can or could may imply ability or capability to do this thing and would or will, inclination or willingness to do it.

    I suggest including the word "please" in any of these questions.
  4. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Welcome to the forum, myWord. If you go to the Dictionary Look-up window at the top of this page and type in "could would", you will find very many threads on this forum as to the use of these words. It's a good idea to try this first because it's very unusual for someone to pose a question that hasn't been posed before (likely many times before).:)
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