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Conversation strategies: Asking politely

Episode 8

Making requests

Sometimes you need to ask to do something or ask someone to do something. 

  • You can use Do you mind if + subject + verb . . . ? to ask permission to do something:

Do you mind if I look around? ( = Can I look around?)

  • You can use Would you mind + verb + -ing . . . ? to ask someone to do something:

Would you mind helping me in the kitchen? ( = Can you help me?)

You can use No to agree to requests with Do you mind if . . . ? and Would you mind + verb  + -ing . . . ?:

A: Do you mind if I open the window? 

B: No, go ahead.

A: Would you mind helping me with my project? 

B: No, not at all.

The tricky part is the answer. In both examples, No means “I don’t mind. It’s not a problem.”

Do you mind = would it be a problem?

What’s the difference between do you mind if I and would you mind?

  1. Do you mind means if… means _________ do something?
  2. Would you mind + ing means __________ do something?

Agreeing to requests

You can use Yes or No to agree to requests. Use Yes to agree to requests with Can and Could:

A: Can I look around? 

B: Yes. / Sure. / Go (right) ahead.

A: Could you chop the potatoes? 

B: Yes. / Sure. / Yeah, no problem. / OK.

On the other hand, if questions start with do you mind if I or would you mind say No.

A: Do you mind if I look around? 

B: No, go (right) ahead. / No, not at all.

A: Would you mind helping me in the kitchen? 

B: No, not at all. / Oh, no. No problem. I’m happy to help.

A case where you would yes as an answer:

A: It’s really cold and someone says Do you mind if I open the window?

B: Yes, I do mind. It’s really cold. (You are not giving permission)

B: No, not at all. (Go ahead open the window)

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