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I want to inquire about fee for Tai Chi course. But, the word "Fee" would not be polite for such martial art. Would there be any alternate word I could use, which is more polite and kind to ask about this.

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Why do you think "fee" is impolite? This word, along with "charge" and "rate", are standard terms for dealing with the unavoidably fact that commercial services must normally be paid for. – FumbleFingers Apr 23 '11 at 17:26
There's nothing wrong with the word "fee" in English. Of course, if both you and the instructor are East Asian, and both still think there's a stigma attached to the word "fee" because there is for the corresponding word in your native language, you may have to find a circumlocution. On the other hand, the instructor may be used to dealing with native English speakers, and not be offended by the word "fee". – Peter Shor Apr 23 '11 at 18:06
up vote 6 down vote accepted

What about "contribution"? That's definitely much more polite.

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A contribution for something where you decide how much you're putting in. If they have a set price for the course, then using the word "contribution" is disingenuous. – user3217 Apr 23 '11 at 16:41
Haha, good point:p – masarah Apr 23 '11 at 16:43

Think you're beating around the wrong bush. If it's not polite to ask about a fee, then it's not polite to charge one. Hence, if they are charging a fee, you can ask about it, using the word "fee".

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I don't know whether they charge for this. – Prince Ashitaka Apr 23 '11 at 16:49
Then ask whether there is a fee. I'm sure that the instructor will be more than happy to tell you, and won't be offended at all! – user3217 Apr 23 '11 at 16:49

You could say, "What's the recommended donation/contribution?"

There are definitely instances where the providers of a service do not explicitly ask for a payment; rather, they ask for a donation or contribution, and usually provide a minimum amount.

But, if in this case, the course is advertised with a fee, then you could safely ask what the fee is. The politeness resides in your tone of voice and manner of speaking.

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You can try remuneration, or honorarium.

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You could ask what are the dues for the course, or quite simply what is the cost. Or possibly even ask what gratuity is payable. I don't think fee is being impolite but I do understand the predicament you're faced with.

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