I recently got into a conversation with a freind who said it's rude to directly ask people without using the word "please" or converting the question to an indirect one. In the US this is the norm and I seem to have seen countless people using it on a day to day basis.

Can I get a fry?

Can I have a cup of tea?

closed as off-topic by Colin Fine, Chenmunka, Drew, choster, user66974 Nov 16 '14 at 20:26

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  • Depends on where you are, even in the US, and perhaps, your equation with the person whom you are asking. – Kris Nov 14 '14 at 9:27
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    All answers/comments will be opinions rather than facts on questions such as this. I (from England) always use please for a first request, and rather feel that people making a request of me are being a little offhand if they don't say please. If somebody is helping me and I make a series of requests such as 'Pass the hammer', 'Give me another nail, 'Turn that knob', etc, I would not worry too much about the pleases every time. – tunny Nov 14 '14 at 10:19
  • I'm not sure how Can I get a fry? translates into the Queen's English. It sounds positively obscene to me. 'Could I have a cup of tea?' sounds far pleasanter than 'Can...'. And it's even better if you add please. – WS2 Nov 14 '14 at 10:44
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about manners, not about English language or usage. – Colin Fine Nov 14 '14 at 11:37
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    @ColinFine I don't understand why politeness isn't part of usage? It seems to me to be another aspect of things such as style and register. – Araucaria Nov 14 '14 at 12:09

Leaving the word please out of a question is not rude. Leaving it out of a command or statement is.

It is rude to begin a conversation with a stranger or ask a question without saying excuse me. Direct questioning is fine once we've said hello.

There are levels of curtness the working world expects; I'm going to look at you funny for a second before I answer your question of "Excuse me, hello. I was wondering if you could tell me what time it is, please?" I wouldn't if you just asked "Hey, what time is it?"

  • +1 for the "Excuse me, hello. I was wondering if you could tell me what time it is, please?" example :) – Honza Zidek Nov 14 '14 at 10:37
  • @Mazure. Excuse me, hello. I was wondering if you could tell me what time it is, please? is excessive, but I would consider *Hey, what time is it? rather impolite. – tunny Nov 14 '14 at 13:28
  • It'd be considered rude if you don't say thank you afterwards. Have the courtesy to thank them for their time without wasting any of it while asking for it. It's by the bounds of standard etiquette impolite; it only becomes rude when someone becomes offended. – Mazura Nov 14 '14 at 13:55
  • 'excuse me, hello' would personally rub me the wrong way. The 'Excuse me' already serves to draw my attention. The 'hello' would suggest (depending on how quickly it would follow the 'excuse me') that the speaker is rushing me, like a sarcastic 'nów do I have your attention?'. I would leave the 'hello' out of the question or start the question with it (if the other party were already looking at you for some reason). – Terah Feb 26 '16 at 13:28

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