Requests, offers and invitations

Level: beginner


We use could you … and would you … as polite ways of telling or asking someone to do something:

Could you take a message, please?
Would you carry this for me, please?

can and will are less polite:

Can you take a message, please?
Will you carry this for me, please?

Offers and invitations

We use can I … to make offers:

Can I help you?
Can I do that for you?

We can also use shall I …:

Shall I help you with that?
Shall I call you on your mobile?

We sometimes say I can ... or I could ... or I'll (I will) ... to make an offer:

I can do that for you if you like.
I could give you a lift to the station.
I'll do that for you if you like.
I'll give you a lift to the station.

We use would you like (to) ... for invitations:

Would you like to come round tomorrow?
Would you like another drink

Level: advanced

We can use you must … or we must … for a very polite invitation:

You must come round and see us.
We must meet again soon.

Requests, offers and invitations 1


Requests, offers and invitations 2


Requests, offers and invitations 3



Average: 4.1 (51 votes)
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Submitted by mischachristen on Thu, 14/03/2024 - 15:40


Hello Sir, 

Are there any differences from brittish english to american english?


Submitted by Sajatadib on Thu, 13/10/2022 - 11:42


Hello Sir,
At a restaurant a waiter asks you; What can I get you?
Is it a request?
In the same situation,does the meaning change if he says; What could I get you?

Hello Sajatadib,

Functions such as these are very much dependent on the context. I would say that in this context it is an offer: the waiter is letting the customers know that he is ready to take their order.

Could and can have the same meaning here. I think could is perhaps slightly more formal.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by g-ssan on Fri, 07/10/2022 - 17:32


Sir ,
Can we use may for request like may you take a message please .

Hi g-ssan,

No, we can use can, could or would in that sentence, but not may

The meaning of 'may' is about permission - giving or receiving permission to do something. Some requests do involve permission, and you can use 'May' if you are requesting permission to do something yourself. For example, you can ask May I borrow your book? That is a request, and it is also asking for permission to do something, so 'May' is fine.

I hope that helps to understand it.


The LearnEnglish Team