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 English Vocabulary for learners 

How to accept or refuse a request politely.

The short dialogues below are intended to indicate to learners how a native English speaker would accept or refuse a request.

POLITE REQUESTS - accepting or refusing 
  • Can I have a copy of this letter please?
    • Sure. Here you are.
    • I'm afraid that's not possible.
  • Can I borrow your pen please?
    • Yes. Go ahead. No problem.
    • Sorry. I'm afraid I need it.
  • Could you help me with this please?
    Do you think you could help me with this please?
    • Yes, of course. | Just a second. I'll be right with you.
    • I'm afraid I can't. Sorry.
  • Could I have some more tea please?
    • Yes of course. I'll get some.
    • Sorry. There is no tea left.
    'May' is more polite than 'can' or 'could'.
  • May I sit here?
    • Sure. Please do.
    • Sorry. That's Carla's seat.
  • May I use your phone?
    • Yes, of course.
    • Sorry. The line is out of order. / I'm waiting for a call.
  • Will you join us for dinner?
    • Yes. With pleasure. / I'd be delighted to.
    • I'm afraid I can't - sorry.
    • I'd love to but I'm afraid I've got other plans.
  • Would you translate this for me please?
    • No problem. I'll do that straight away.
    • I'm sorry. I don't speak ....
  • Would you care to join us for lunch?
    • With pleasure.
    • Sorry. I've got an appointment.
  • Do you mind if I open the window?
    • No, not at all.
    • I'd rather you didn't. I feel a bit cold.
  • Do you mind if I read your newspaper?
    • Please do.
    • I'm afraid it's not mine.
  • Would you mind if I opened the window?
    • No, of course not.
    • I'd prefer if you didn't. It's rather cold.
  • Would you mind closing the door?
    • No problem.
    • I'm afraid I can't. It's blocked.
  • Is it ok if I use your dictionary?
    • Yes, that's ok.
    • Sorry. I need it for the moment.
  • Do you think I could borrow this book?
    • Sure. Go ahead.
    • Sorry. It must be left here.
  • It is all right if I park here?
    • Yes. That's fine.
    • No. That's the manager's space!

See also: Useful expressions for everyday situations

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