Modals of requests

This article is additional to the main page dedicated to Modal Verbs.

When we want to make a request we use modal verbs 'can', 'could' and 'would'. They all can be used interchangeably, but you need to remember that they have a different level of politeness.


The most polite way to make a request is to use the modal 'would'. But be careful - this modal has a special grammatical way of usage. 

We take a phrase 'would you mind' than place a main verb with -ing ending after it.

Would you mind opening the window?

Would you mind turning on the light?


Using the modal 'could' is also a rather polite way to make a request. 

Could you give me a piece of advice, please?

Could you take my bag, please? It's very heavy.


The modal verb 'can' is the most common way to make a request but less polite than 'could' and 'would'.

Can you take my bag?

Can you help me with this programme?