When you ask someone to do something for you, it is important to sound polite. In English there are very many ways to make your speech and writing polite. You can, for example, use the auxiliary verbs could and would
Asking people to do something for you
- Could you pass the salt around?
- Could you help me with my homework?
- Could you open the window, please?
- Would you mind helping me with my homework?
- Would you mind opening the window, please?
- Can you, please, pass the salt around?
- Can you open the window for me?
- Could you bring me that file?
- Could you get me a cup of coffee?
Note that could is more polite than can.
Both could and can are followed by infinitives without to. Would you mind is followed by an –ing form.
Asking if you can do something
- Can I have a look at your papers, please?
- Could I borrow your car?
- Could I use your phone?
- Could I use your computer?
- Would you mind if I opened the window?
- Could I turn the heating on?
- Would you mind if I turned the heating on?
- Would you mind if I borrowed your car?
- Do you mind if I borrow your car?
Do you mind is followed by a verb in the present tense. Would you mind is followed by a verb in the past tense.