Different situations in life call for different communication styles. When it comes to expressing ourselves verbally, we make decisions about what we say and how we say it based on the status of the person we are talking to.
In linguistics, this level of formality we use is called register.
As a rule, EFL speakers want to err on the side of being polite. Dabbling in slang and informal language may be fun, but it also can get us into trouble.
A great way to be respectful when asking another person for something – anything really – is to use the following structure:
Would you be good enough to + verb?
For example, if I’m in a business situation, I can ask my new contact:
Would you be good enough to give me your business card?
I love using this form in speaking but it works equally well in writing. So to a colleague overseas you could ask in an email:
Would you be good enough to send me your mailing address?
You can’t really go wrong by being polite in English. So, the next time you find yourself in a situation that requires a little professional formality, would you be good enough to take my advice?
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