I have heard that "Could you please...?" could lead some people to interpret it as being sarcastic.

The below is part of an email to colleagues I do not know and their boss to arrange a conference.

Request: Could you send me your presentation material by 9th September, please?

In this case, how should I write?

  1. Could you......, please?
  2. Could you please......?
  3. Could you kindly......?
  4. Could you......?

"I would appreciate it if ~" is used in other sentences in this email, so I would like to avoid it this time. 


1 Answer 1


They could all be seen as sarcastic. Then again, it may be none are. This depends on the entire context (not merely tone of voice). For example, if your audience believes you to be disposed to sarcastic utterances, then they may predict this of you. Since observation is theory laden, their predictions may very well inform their understanding of your statements. Or, an audience may suffer from neuroticism. Their understanding of your statements may be colored by their irrational fears, e.g., paranoia, poor self-esteem, troubled mood, etc. This may then give rise to a perverse interpretation, turning a benign statement into a sarcastic one.

Really, the set of possible factors that can lead to a sarcastic interpretation are legion.

All your sentences are fine, to certain individuals (say, serious thinkers). And none of your sentences are fine, to others (say, Alex Jones).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.