by Kate Woodford
It’s often said that native English speakers use a lot of ‘softeners’ in their language – those words and phrases which make us sound nicer and more polite, (even if they have very little actual meaning). This week we’re taking a look at softeners and the sort of situations in which we often use them.
An obvious place to start is requesting – asking politely for things or for help. (It’s obviously a good idea to sound polite and pleasant if you want something from someone!) There are several ways to make it clear to someone that you are requesting something and not demanding it. Could I take this chair, please? sounds just a little bit nicer than Can I take this chair, please? The meaning is the same in both sentences, but with ‘could’ the speaker sounds a little less sure of the answer and…
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