Lets say I am working on a project with 2 other people and there is some information that I need to work, so Can I ask like this:

Can you please tell me "How am I supposed to run this script?".

instead of

Can you please tell me "How do I run this script?".

What I am trying to ask is whether replacing do with supposed to makes the question rude? Because usually it is used in a expression like this:

How am I supposed to know you don't like something

  • If you are worried about being polite, you should change Can to Could.
    – tchrist
    Dec 30, 2012 at 21:47
  • @tchrist thanks for your suggestion but can I you please explain?
    – noob
    Dec 30, 2012 at 21:55
  • Because it is always more polite to use forms like could/would instead of can/will when making polite requests like these.
    – tchrist
    Dec 30, 2012 at 22:01

2 Answers 2


I'm not quite sure why OP is asking, since he seems to know the answer anyway.

You don't normally ask How am I supposed to do X? in a genuine spirit of enquiry, because it's pretty much the direct equivalent of How do you expect me to do X?. These forms are invariably used in hostile/beligerent/uncooperative contexts.

OP's How do/can I do X? is the "standard" form, but if you want to be a bit more deferential/polite, you can always ask How should I do X?


Much depends on the circumstances, on your relationship with the other party and on the tone of voice in which you ask your question. Supposed to can be said so as not to give offence, but if you are in any doubt about when and how to say it, it might be safer to avoid it. I don’t think anyone would object if you put your question as ‘Look, I’m not too sure about how I should run this script. Do you think you could give me some ideas?’

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