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Today on one of other stackexchange sites I've been reached with following comment: "Care to add some references for your claims?".

This sounds to me not only formal but a bit rude, so I've mistakenly initiated some unpleasant discussion, so shame on me actually.

Now, not to hit the wall twice I just want to learn do phrases

  • Care to add some references for your claims.
  • Please, care to add some references for your claims.
  • Would you care to add some references for your claims

sound equally polite and/or formal?

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    They mean the same thing, one is a colloquial shortening of the other, don't be offended. ;-) – user98990 Mar 19 '15 at 15:58
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    @LittleEva, oh, good to know ) – shabunc Mar 19 '15 at 16:02
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    Right. This is an example of Conversational Deletion, which is very common in spoken American English. – John Lawler Mar 19 '15 at 16:18
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    As for the phrases, the first one should be a question: Initial subject You can be deleted in questions, and initial subject I can be deleted in statements, but not the other way around. The second one is ungrammatical because you isn't initial; please would be OK at the end, though. The third one is the undeleted form and it's fine. – John Lawler Mar 19 '15 at 16:20
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    On the other hand, "Care to step outside?" seems less odd than "Would you care to step outside?" as an invitation to brawl in the street, perhaps because it seems less punctiliously polite (because less formal). A friendly question framed informally may sound even more sincerely friendly ("Care for a smoke?"), but an unfriendly question may seem more brusque and threatening ("Care to repeat that?"). So the politeness (as well as the friendliness) of the phrasing is, in very large part, situational. – Sven Yargs Mar 30 '15 at 7:21
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I'm glad you asked. It's so easy for a person to get unnecessarily offended by language subtleties in a non-native language. I remember once trying to say to my mother-in-law in my pidgin German, "I'm ready to visit your cousins" and she understood "I'm fed up with your cousins." It took us a long time to straighten that out! It turned out there was an idiom that I wasn't aware of, and she forgot that idioms were waay beyond me.

I will give you my person reactions, as a native English speaker from the U.S., to the various expressions.

(1) Care to add some references for your claims?

Reaction: the way this is posed doesn't sound rude to me. However, the person who wrote this is standing up to you, saying "Hey, friend, put your money where your mouth is, and tell us how you arrived at this!"

(2) Please, care to add some references for your claims?

This doesn't sound like a native English speaker. (1) was informal, and the informality softened it. By putting the formal "Please," at the beginning, it becomes confusing, like someone asking you if you'd like some hot sauce with your chocolate cake. They just don't go together.

(3) Would you care to add some references for your claims?

The tone of (3) is so much more formal than (1) that it gives me the feeling that the writer is feeling either offended, or confrontational, or both. Sometimes an abrupt increase in formality signals discomfort on the part of the speaker.

Bottom line, it is easy to take things badly when you don't have the benefit of knowing the person already, seeing their body language, or hearing their intonation. And language differences only complicate things more. Just keep all that in mind, when you participate in these international forums where English is forced down everyone's throat, so you can keep things in perspective.

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    I agree. 1) is confrontational, but not necessarily rude, although it could be taken that way. The most neutral/unconfrontational way to express this in my opinion would be "Could you add some references for your claims?" – herisson Mar 30 '15 at 8:09
  • It's not quite clear from your answer, but are you saying that you find 3 more confrontational than 1? It's the opposite to me. “Care to X” is quite confrontational to me, to the point of sounding haughty (though not necessarily rude); “Would you care to X” sounds like a slightly awkward and not entirely natural (but definitely not rude and only slightly confrontational) way of saying “Would you mind X-ing”. In this case, asking someone to provide references is in itself very difficult to do without seeming confrontational, so any hint of it in the phrasing just makes it worse. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 30 '15 at 16:46
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, you're right -- for me, 3 sounds more confrontational than 1. I guess we'd have to have been there to know for sure! The important things here, in my opinion, are to provide useful information to the poster, and to acknowledge the difficulties inherent in this mode of communication, and help him/her lower the level of anxiety and thus reactivity. Btw, for me, the "reached" in the first sentence increased the probability that the poster is an ELL. I think we native speakers need to be especially supportive of ELLs. I've been there, having lived in several other countries. – aparente001 Mar 30 '15 at 17:41

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