Making Requests

You might know that there are two kinds of requests in English. Direct requests and indirect requests. In this article, we will focus on indirect requests.

How to "Make Requests" in English?

What Do We Mean by Making Requests?

Sometimes we want others to do us a favour or we want something from them. In this case, we have to know how to make polite requests. Howevere there are two kinds of requests in English.

  1. Direct requests
  2. Indirect requests

Direct Requests

'Direct requests' are formed when we ask people to do something for us, directly. In this case, it seems we are giving orders to people, which is not considered polite.

Drive me home!

Pass me the salt!

Indirect Requests

'Indirect requests' are considered more polite. They are formed when we use some modal verbs to soften the request and make it more polite.

Could you give me the keys?

Will you take it?

Here are the modal verbs that are used to make indirect requests.

Using 'Can'

The modal verb 'can,' is used to make requests. It is considered less formal and you should know that it is followed by a bare infinitive (infinitive without 'to').
Check out the examples.

Can you turn off the lights?

Can you answer my phone?

Using 'Could'

using 'could' to make a request

The modal verb 'could' refers to the requests that are made at the present time. We mean it is not considered a past verb. 'Could' makes the requests more formal.

Could you call me later?

Could you do my homework, please?

Using 'Will'

The modal verb 'will' is used to make requests. Remember it is followed by a bare infinitive and it is considered less formal.

Will you close the window, please? It is cold, outside.

Will you pick me up to the party?

Using 'Would'

'Would' is another modal verb that is used to make indirect questions. Actually, it is considered more formal as well. Check out the examples.

Would you come over? I need to talk to you.

Would you fill up the car on your way home?

The modal verb 'would,' is also used in an expression that makes it more polite to make requests. The expression is (would you mind + gerund). Let us take a look at the examples for more clarification.

Would you mind washing the dishes?

Would you mind paying for the lunch? I forgot my purse.


We can use the term 'please' after the pronoun or at the end of the interrogative sentences, to make the requests even 'more polite.'
Remember, the important point is to use a 'comma' before the term 'please' when it is used at the end of the interrogative sentences.

Can you please help to paint the walls?

Would you remind me to take the keys, please?

Negative Request

By negative requests we mean, sometimes we ask someone not to do something because it annoys us or we prefer them not to do the particular action.
In this case, we have to use the term 'not' before the main verb.

Would you not shout at me?

Could you not look at my phone when I am texting?


Making requests means asking for something. In English, there are two ways of making requests. Here are the types of requests on the list.

  1. direct requests
  2. indirect requests

To make either direct or indirect requests some modal verbs are used. Take a look at the table to learn them based on the tense they are used in.

Present Past Future


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