Many languages have a formal and informal way of expressing oneself. Do you know how to formally and politely ask for something? People who use English in business settings must do this often. Let’s take a look at some useful phrases to help you get your way.*
Making Formal Requests in Business English
Would it be possible to + base verb . . . ?
With this question, we are politely asking for something.
- Would it be possible to change our meeting to Thursday?
- Would it be possible (for us) to reconsider the rejected proposal?
Would you please consider + ing . . . ?
In this example, we use the GERUND (-ing) form of the word that follows “consider.”
- Would you please consider canceling the meeting due to illness?
- Would the owner consider offering a discount to some customers?
We kindly ask that you/he/she/it/they + base verb
In this example, we use the SUBJUNCTIVE. This means that the verb does not change to match the subject. Instead, it is always a base verb.
- We kindly ask that you provide each customer with a receipt.
- We kindly ask that he thoroughly read the report.
We respectfully request that (subject) + base verb
This is yet another example with the SUBJUNCTIVE.
- We respectfully request that all guests remain quiet when leaving the building.
- We respectfully respect that the unhappy customer accept our apologies and a refund.
For more on the SUBJUNCTIVE, click here.
For more lessons on Business English, check out our articles on Formally Addressing Someone, Responding to Customer Complaints, and the Difference Between a CV and Resume. And be sure to read our Vocabulary Business Students Need to Know and Phrasal Verbs for Business English to help prepare you for the corporate (English) world!
Click here for more information on CISL’s Business and Premier English courses.
*Get your way means “to get what you want.”
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