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To whom do you think a speaker might use the following requests to have the door shut?

  1. Shut the door will you please.
  2. May we have the door shut please?
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  • I've no idea. But the second sounds a bit more polite than the first. However said with sympathetic intonation and appropriate body language there would not be much wrong with the first. Often it is not so much what you say, as the way you say it, which matters.
    – WS2
    May 8, 2016 at 9:34
  • You didn't ask, but in the US the second would be typical in a meeting room or some such where the speaker wants the door shut. (Similar to "Can we have the lights off, please?", when preparing to use a projection screen.) But it would sound presumptuous if it were simply 2-3 people in a private office.
    – Hot Licks
    May 9, 2016 at 1:40

1 Answer 1

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  1. To a specific person they are directly addressing

  2. Indirectly to whoever in the group has 'authority' or 'responsibility' as regards whether the door is to be shut or not. Depending on context it could be a question: "would the group be amenable to having the door shut", or an indirect request: "can whoever is best disposed to shut the door please do so".

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