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Could you please pass me the salt? Options
Koh Elaine
Posted: Saturday, December 02, 2017 8:23:09 AM
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Could you please pass me the salt?
Could you pass me the salt?

I was told by a friend that the second sentence without "please" is wrong. Is he correct?

Thanks.
thar
Posted: Saturday, December 02, 2017 8:47:49 AM

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Well, in social terms, yes. It is very rude to ask without saying 'please' (even if it is a 'could you?', not an order)

A 'please' is an integral part of the sentence.

Normally it would go at the beginning or the end, but nothing wrong the middle, so long as it is there.


You might get away without a 'please' to your mates, but in any other situation it just sounds impolite.
Koh Elaine
Posted: Saturday, December 02, 2017 9:29:30 AM
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Thanks, thar.
hedy mmm
Posted: Saturday, December 02, 2017 1:41:47 PM

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Actually, it should read "Would you please pass me the salt" ...obviously they COULD pass the salt...the question is WOULD they pass it!

I think thar, who is alway correct and precise in his suggestions, might've overlooked that word, in concern for the 'integral' part, which is the word 'please', which definetly is most important!

As a kid I went to summer camp and when when we ate meals or played games, we'd have fun when someone would say, "Could you please pass..." And the response would be "Yes, I can" Whistle ...and not pass it because 'could' means 'can you 'or 'are you capable of'...and then there'd be a peal of laughter until the correct question would follow...'WOULD YOU PLEASE PASS ME THE SALT'...of course, only the one who was desperate for it was utterly frustrated!

Hope my input is okay by you thar, I meant no disrespect...just brought back fond memories.
Don't get me started on how we learned to pass around the seconds, or in what direction! Eeek!Brick wall Brick wall

Have a great weekend, Dancing
hedy

"God graced us with today....don't waste it." hedy
Romany
Posted: Saturday, December 02, 2017 2:53:56 PM
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

We've had quite a few discussions recently on the fact that many AE speakers look at this usage in the same was as Hedy does.you;ll

If you can access one of those you'll find it interesting, Koh. And you'll find why we say "Could" in BE.

So neither is more "right" than the other. Just different cultural constructs.
palapaguy
Posted: Sunday, December 03, 2017 12:35:11 AM

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Location: Calabasas, California, United States
Koh Elaine wrote:
Could you please pass me the salt?
Could you pass me the salt?

I was told by a friend that the second sentence without "please" is wrong. Is he correct?

Thanks.

It is certainly not wrong. "Could you pass me the salt?" is quite common and acceptable in AE. Adding "please" makes it more polite, but that's unnecessary in most casual settings.
Koh Elaine
Posted: Sunday, December 03, 2017 12:44:14 AM
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Thanks to all of you.
thar
Posted: Sunday, December 03, 2017 8:34:25 AM

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Hedy - nothing wrong with disagreeing with me - it has been known to happen! Whistle


I too know the 'can you' ability vs 'will you' willingness correction - but for whatever reason, I would say 'could'. To me 'would' makes it sound like too much of an order. You ask if they could do something - and let it be assumed there is a reason behind it. Until some smart alec answers 'yes'. Whistle

As Rom says, I think that is a AE /BE difference in phrasing. Also the levels of 'please, thankyou' and 'sorry' that are expected in well-mannered English people. You say sorry if someone bumps into you. You say please for everything, and thanks for anything.

The difference in culture can be noticeable. Brits in America can sometimes appear too polite, or not assertive enough - and Americans in Britain can come across as brash and rude. It is just the cultural difference of using a few words, or not using them. I think there are similar jokes about Americans vs Canadians. My advice to learners would be to learn to always say please, until it is instinctive. Appearing too polite can be quaint, but does no harm. Appearing rude can damage a business relationship before it even starts!



Sometimes it is tough, but the British fight on to keep their culture, despite the world trying to dismiss it. Whistle

Koh Elaine
Posted: Sunday, December 03, 2017 10:24:11 AM
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Joined: 7/4/2012
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Thanks, thar.
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