We use this question to make a polite request. It has a very similar meaning to "Can you...?", but it is considered to be a little more polite.
Could you + verb...?
- Can you help me? = Could you help me?
This question is used to make a request or to ask for help or a favor.
- Could you tell me your name?
- Could you help me?
- Could you check my answer to see if it is right?
- Could you stop talking?
- Could you come to the party early to help me set up?
- Could you come here for a minute?
We can add the word "please" after "you" or at the end of the sentence to make it more polite.
- Could you check my work, please?
- Could you listen to my speech and give me some feedback, please?
- Could you take a look at this report, please?
- Could you please be quiet for a minute?
- Could you please come here?
- Could you please cook dinner tonight?
We can also use this pattern with an adjective, noun, or prepositional phrase. Could you be...?
- Could you be quiet, please?
- Could you be my mentor, please?
- Could you be more specific?
- Could you please be on time for the next meeting?
We can ask a third person for help by changing "you" to a different subject.
Bonus Tips and Points
- Could your brother help me?
- Could your father lend me some money?
- Could he help us?
- Could he speak more slowly for us?
1. There are many different ways to ask for help or to make a request. Two common ways are "Can you..." and "Could you...?". They have the exact same meaning, but "Could you..." is more polite and is considered more proper English.
Note: Using "Can you/I..." to make a request or to ask for permission is modern English. That is why some older grammar books say that using "Can you/I..." in this way is incorrect. But almost all English speakers do it these days, especially in casual situations.Real-World English Conversations
- Could you help me?
(=Can you help me?)
- Could you open the window, please?
(=Can you open the window, please?)
- Could you come here, please?
(=Can you come here, please?)
A) Could you give me some advice?
B) About what?
A) I am starting my first job next week and I am very nervous.
B) Just be yourself and be polite. Everybody knows that you are new and young. They will be willing to help you if you just ask.
A) Could you please speak slower? My English is not great.
B) Of course. I am sorry. Sometimes, I get excited and I speak too fast.
A) Could you tell where the bank is?
B) Sure. Go down this street for about 5 minutes. Then, you will see a movie theater. Turn right at the movie theater and walk for about a minute. You will see the bank on your right.
A) Could you please stop talking? I am trying to listen to this news report.
B) Sorry. I will tell you after.
A) Could you hold this for a minute?
B) No problem.
A) Could you watch my bag for a second while I go to the bathroom?
B) Of course. Use these free English lessons to learn the most common sentence patterns in the English language. If you learn these sentences and questions, it will help you speak English well. Study the lessons thoroughly, practice making your own sentences, and come back to review often. If you do these three steps, your English speaking will improve quickly and you will be able to have natural English conversations.