How would you describe the action of forcing another person do something, when they must do this, but it is not very serious if they don't do it.
OR, simply put:
What word is stronger than "ask" and weaker than "demand"?
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noun: an act of asking politely or formally for something.
verb: politely or formally ask for.
Instead of asking someone to do something, you can assign the task to do something. More casually, you can "task them to do something".
This has the general feeling of an involuntary obligation (someone else decided you must do it), but also not having serious consequences without additional context to quantify the penalties for failure.
Another word that can be used would be expect. From Dictionary.com in their section on synonyms:
Expect, anticipate, hope, await all imply looking to some future event. Expect implies confidently believing, usually for good reasons, that an event will occur: to expect a visit from a friend.
This can be used both from a superior position (a boss asking strongly that a subordinate do something):
I expect all employees to complete their time-sheets for the previous week by the following Monday afternoon.
And can also be used more formally from a slightly subordinate position or when dealing with a large organisation and you are trying to "force their hand" without (at this stage) sounding too demanding:
Please find enclosed the details of my insurance claim. I expect to receive your initial response within 14 days.
By telling someone of your expectation that a certain event or action will happen, you are, in effect, requesting them to make sure that that it does happen -- more strongly than simply asking them to do something, but not as strongly as demanding that it happen.
A milder form of this idea -- setting an expectation -- would be look forward: "I look forward to receiving your response within 14 days.".
I insist you think deeply about this issue. I insist you let me pay this bill.
And Google's dictionary added 'demand something forcefully, not accepting refusal', which seems appropriate. And they add 'persist in (doing something)', and gave an example: "the heavy studded boots she insisted on wearing".
Insist seems to fit the bill. It feels a little closer to Demand, yet much stronger than Ask. The issue for me is attempting to Force an action or thought, with only trivial consequences if they do not.
Beseech is stronger than ask but not as strong as demand.
Beseech (verb): 2.a. To beg earnestly for, entreat (a thing). (OED)
For example it is used in the KJV version of the New Testament. Paul does not demand that the Christians live for God; but neither does he simply ask -- instead he beseeches them.
KJV of Romans 12:1: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Would you please . . .
Yes, would you please. Many assignments, demands, and orders are politely phrased. The specific verb--unless it has become necessary to use strong language--is unlikely to indicate the extent to which the request is optional or free from consequences if not followed.
Let's try to get this in the mail before the end of the day . . .
Certainly there are definite statements, e.g., "All employees are expected to comply with time-sheet regulations . . ." But because the boss says "I'd appreciate if you would . . ." doesn't mean you don't have to do it.
Often someone in an office is making a request of someone who works, in the hierarchy, for other people. There are service departments (supplies, IT) that do tasks for a variety of people or departments. Often there are priorities to be set.
The historically infamous indirect request (order?) is, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" Wikipedia The article also recounts the U.S. President's request to his FBI director about an investigation: "I hope you can let this go."
So there are connotions as well as denotations in these interactions.
to attempt to persuade or coerce (someone) into doing something.
(from the Google dictionary widget)
It is stronger than "ask" in the sense that it suggests the use of force, to an extent. As it does not imply anything about the actual necessity of doing the "something" or the extremity of repercussions for not doing the "something," it is weaker than demand.