Mar 012013
 

In this BBC How to… ask permission programme, we look at language you can use when asking for permission to do something.
We listen to different ways of asking everyday requests in the work environment.

 
Transcript:

Language for asking permission
Question head
subject verb phrase with base infinitive
Can
Could
I
he
she
they
borrow your pen?
use your phone charger?
take the day off tomorrow?
ask you something?
have one of your sandwiches?
Language for asking permission 2
Question head
subject verb phrase with present simple
Would it be OK if
Would it be alright if
I
he
she
they
borrow/s your pen?
use/s your phone charger?
take/s the day off tomorrow?
ask/s you to help me?
have/has one of your sandwiches?
Language for asking permission 3
Question head
subject verb phrase with past subjunctive
Would it be OK if
Would it be alright if
I
he
she
they
borrowed your pen?
used your phone charger?
took the day off tomorrow?
asked you to help me?
had one of your sandwiches?
A word about politeness
When asking for permission to do something we usually use the word ‘please‘ to make the request sound more polite. It’s not grammatically necessary to use ‘please‘ but you may sound rude if you don’t use it. ‘Please‘ can be put in different places in the sentence; at the start, end or before the verb:

Please can I borrow your pen?
Can I please borrow your pen?
Can I borrow your pen, please?

A more important way of showing politeness is the tone of voice and intonation. Even if you use the word ‘please‘ you can sound rude if your pronunciation is not correct.

Generally the longer an expression is the more formal and polite it sounds. However remember that pronunciation is always very important in a spoken request for permission.

BBC How to… ask permission Transcript Video

 

BBC How to… Part 5-6

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