This question is used to make polite requests or to ask for permission. Could I + verb....?
- Could I borrow your phone?
- Could I have something to drink?
- Could I see that for a minute?
- Could I have a bite of your hamburger? It looks good.
- Could I ask you a question?
- Could I go to the bathroom before we start?
- Could I talk to you for a minute?
We can add the word "please" after "I" or at the end of the question to make it even more polite.
- Could I borrow five dollars, please?
- Could I see your phone for a second, please?
- Could I please get your advice on something?
- Could I please ask you a question?
We can also make polite requests to other people using "Could you...?".
- Could you help me?
- Could you open the window, please?
- Could you please come here?
- Could you please stop talking?
We can change the subject and make a request of the third person.
- Could your brother help me?
- Could he help us?
- Could your father lend me some money?
- Could your boss meet us tomorrow and explain more about this project?
Similarly, we can ask permission for another person.
Bonus Tips and Points
- Could my brother come to the party with me?
- Could my daughter take a picture with you?
- Could my wife attend the dinner?
- Could my coworker also attend the meeting?
1. There are different ways to make a request. They all have the same basic meaning, but some are considered more polite than others.
Real-World English Conversations
- Give me $5.
(This is not polite. I usually do not even say this to my close friends.)
- Please give me $5.
(This is pretty polite. I would say this to my friends or family.)
- Could you lend me $5?
(This is pretty polite. I would say this to friends, family, coworkers.)
- Could you please lend me $5?
(This is polite. We can say this to anybody.)
- I was wondering if you could please give me $5.
(This is very polite and indirect. We can say this to anybody. I use this most with people that I do not know or when I want to be especially polite.)
A) Could I ask you a personal question?
B) Go ahead.
A) How much do you weigh?
B) Hahaha. I don't want to answer that.
A) Could you open the door for me? I am carrying too many things.
B) Oh! Of course.
A) Could you help me with this report? I have no idea how to finish it.
B) Of course, but I don't have time until later.
A) Okay. Whenever you have time is fine.
A) Could I trouble you for a glass of water?
B) No problem. I'll be right back.
A) Could I borrow your car for an hour?
B) I'm sorry, but I don't feel comfortable doing that.
A) Could I ask you some English questions later?
B) Sure. I would be happy to help. Study these free English lessons to improve your English speaking. If you learn these common sentence patterns well, then your English speaking will improve greatly and you will be able to have fluent conversations in English in the near future! Study the lessons well, practice using the sentences and questions at home and in real life, and make sure to come back to review the material so you do not forget. If you do these three things, then you will be speaking English like a native English speaker in no time!