Is there a difference in the degree of politeness between saying 'I request that you...' and 'Could you, please, ...'? I realize that I could say 'I kindly request...' or 'I would like to kindly request...'.

WHY I ASK FOR CLARIFICATION: Someone is using word 'request' on a regular basis without words 'could you', 'would you', 'please' or 'kindly' and whom I suggested to consider using softer forms of language in communication with others (not necessarily with me).

That person sent me back the following explanation:



Noun An act of asking politely or formally for something.

Verb Politely or formally ask for.

Nothing "rough edge" about that, is there? This is actually a word used often everywhere, as I had received communications with it from my OT school and jobs and from friends. So perhaps maybe it's just rough edge for you?

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    A good example of appropriate question. May seems very simple and basic at first look but It is not! Thanks! Feb 10, 2013 at 18:04
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    A request, as opposed to a demand, is usually polite. The verb request, however, feels much stronger.
    – Anonym
    May 19, 2014 at 2:06
  • "I request that" sounds like something a monarch or person in power would say. It's usual when asking politely (in English) to make it sound as if you're not ordering someone to do anything, but to do it in a roundabout way as though you're making a general statement or inquiry: "could you...?" or "it would be a great help if..." or "may I..." or "are there any...?" or "I wonder if you would be so kind as to..."
    – Stuart F
    Dec 12, 2019 at 9:58

4 Answers 4


I request that you . . . is extremely formal, and unlikely to be heard much in speech. Expressions like Could you, please, . . .? and Would you mind . . .? are what are normally used in conversation, and are perfectly polite.

  • Thank you, Barrie. My understanding is in line with your explanation. Feb 10, 2013 at 17:38
  • Barrie, so would you say that outright 'request' is somewhat of the 'rough edge' in communication, being too formal, too dry and on the edge of direct demand? Feb 10, 2013 at 17:43
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    @user1115798. I find it hard to imagine the verb request being used in any normal conversation, other than by the severely constipated. Feb 10, 2013 at 19:56

Politeness depends on more than just language, and so could vary considerably from place to place and context to context.

While it's more polite than the bare form, because it states that it's a request rather than a demand, but not much more.

Really, it's appropriate for legalese where you want to tone things down from an outright demand ("we request that you submit a complaint within 7 days", "we request that you read the terms and conditions before making an order"), but it's not very polite. (You would kindly request someone attend an event in a formal invite, not just request it).

  • Jon, thank you! I am glad my understanding was correct and I thought exactly as you explained. Feb 10, 2013 at 17:39
  • Jon, would you say that outright 'request' is somewhat of the 'rough edge' in communication, being too formal, too dry and on the edge of direct demand? Feb 10, 2013 at 17:44
  • It would really depend on the context. To a necessarily legal matter like terms and conditions, it smooths the edges, and would be polite. In a friendly matter, it's both too formal and not polite enough. In an polite but formal matter (such as a wedding invitation) it's a suitable level of formality, but not polite enough.
    – Jon Hanna
    Feb 10, 2013 at 22:41

A request is indeed "An act of asking politely or formally for something."

However, that does not mean the word request must itself be used, and an imperative command sounds less polite than a standard question (with "please" and a question mark).


I share the same understanding of request. It sounds close to demand. My Indian colleagues use the term I request you to ...too often in the emails. I was irritated first. But later, I think that might be a translation from their Hindu, so I just ignore this tone.

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