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May I request you to kindly collect the brief?

or

May I request you to kindly collect the brief.

Which of the above two sentences is correctly punctuated?

Added afterwards: This request is to be made to a very senior official. This request is meant to be a polite form of asking the official to do the task of collecting the brief. He, being a very senior official, could not be given a command; he can only be requested, where the request should be extra polite and he does not feel that he is being commanded.

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    "May I" is a question. – Jim Jan 19 '16 at 3:18
  • "May I ask you to collect the brief?" – JEL Jan 19 '16 at 4:08
  • It is rather request for permission than a question. ? mark is not necessary, unless a question tone is intended. – Ram Pillai Nov 26 '19 at 17:39
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You really have two problems. The first is a matter of punctuation, and as such this is a matter of style, so the answer to it will depend on what manual of style you use. Mine is the Chicago Manual of Style, which recommends that a request "courteously disguised as a quesiton" not be terminated with a question mark but a period. Thus

May I request you to kindly collect the brief.

The second problem is a social one. If you are writing in a culture that requires more attention be paid to politeness and hierarchy than is required in Chicago, then by all means replace the period with a question mark.

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  • Doesn't "May I request you to..." sound archaic and too formal especially in spoken language? I think "Would you please help me collect the brief?" would suffice. – user140086 Jan 19 '16 at 5:25
  • @Rathony I took it that the request would be written. (Which is why advice on tone of voice is useless) Certainly it's too formal in the city that gave us its manual of style. (Don't write in: I know it's the U of C.) But this kind of formulaic politeness may be expected in higher cultures. – deadrat Jan 19 '16 at 5:40
  • @deadrat - I feel that you are correct when you say a request "courteously disguised as a question" should not be terminated with a question mark but a period. Your answer is great. I accept the answer. Thanks a lot. – Dinesh Kumar Garg Jan 19 '16 at 11:25
  • @DineshKumarGarg You're more than welcome. I hasten to add that "correct" might be a bit overstated. My answer is in accord with a particular manual of style, and all such manuals provide guidelines, not hard and fast rules, something the CMS states in its pages. If you have a choice, remember that your judgment is important. You know your audience and you know your environment. Be guided but not necessarily commanded. – deadrat Jan 19 '16 at 17:06
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If would be voiced as a question it should end with a question mark. If it would be voiced as a command (eg, a stern teacher telling a student what to do) then it is not a question, regardless of the literal wording, and the question mark is not appropriate. The question mark serves to indicate the tone of voice, and what that tone implies.

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  • This request is to be made to a very senior official. This request is meant to be a polite form of asking the official to do a particular task. He, being a very senior official, could not be given a command; he can only be requested, where the request should be extra polite and he does not feel that he is being commanded. – Dinesh Kumar Garg Jan 19 '16 at 3:36
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    @DineshKumarGarg - Then, if spoken, it would be voiced as a question, and hence it should have a question mark. – Hot Licks Jan 19 '16 at 4:08
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Definitely a question. Therefore, the sentence should end with a question mark. If you prefer to make it a statement, you could say "Please make sure you collect the brief." The question form is more polite, but you could get some wisecrack who simply answers "No".

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