The Difference Between "Can You Please" And "Could You Please" (2023)

Moving through life and indulging in everyday conversations, we tend to use language with different styles, tenses, and dialects. We encounter many questions daily, with different styles, tenses, and dialects.

English is one of the most spoken languages out there. To many, it comes easy while for others it’s not the same. This language comes with its rules and regulations.

When you ask someone a question, usually the phrase “could you” is used or “can you”. Similarly, if we have to ask someone for a favor, we use “could you please” or “can you please.”

But the question arises: are both of them correct? And if they’re correct, which specific features set them apart?

“Can you please” is more formal than “Could you please?” “Could you please” is a request for coordination, whereas “Can you please” is more of an order. Consider a teacher who has a rowdy class. Could you please be quiet? “is more effective than “Can you please be quiet?”

There is a question mark next to “Could you?”, which confirms the fact that a question is supposed to be asked with an answer of “yes”.

I’m here to talk about and clear up any misunderstandings about these phrases that a layperson might have.

Let’s get started.

“Can You please” Or “Could You Please?”- Which One Is Correct?

Both of these statements are correct. The situation in which it is to be used is only delayed. “Could you please help me?” This is used to address a friend or family member. In that case, politeness isn’t as important as getting the job(s) done.

On the other hand, “Canyoupleasehelpme?”isaformalwayofaddressingsomeone.

For example, when addressing strangers or people in higher positions than the addressee, you cannot ask for assistance without being polite. But, in other cases, you have to b formal to asking for help.

(Video) “CAN” or “COULD”? What’s the difference?

I believe you got it from this brief explanation.

“Can You Please Vs? Could You Please?”

To put it the other way, “Could” is the polite form of “can,” so both are correct, but we use them differently. When we ask someone to do us a favor, we use the word “can.”

When we make a request, we use the word “could, making the conversation more formal.” “Can you please be quiet?” says the teacher to the students. “Could you please explain it again?” says the student to the teacher.

These examples help us to understand that the use of these phrases will depend upon the type of conversation you’re having, and it depends on the person you have to ask for a favor.

The Distinguishing Element Between ‘Could You Please’ And “Can You Please”

Both are correct and polite, yet adding “please” adds more politeness to the phrase. From the most impolite to the most polite, we have:

  • Makethishappen! (Thisisan impolite order)
  • Pleasedothis(abluntrequest)
  • Willyou or canyoupleasedothis? (Courtesy,butdirect)
  • Couldyoupleasedothis? (Morepoliteandlessdirect.)
  • Couldyoupleasedothis?(extremelypolite)
  • WouldyoumindifIdidthis?(Extremelygenteel)

So, after going through the examples, we can easily differentiate the mannerism of these questions, and adding “could you” to a sentence makes it more polite than the others without it.

The Difference Between "Can You Please" And "Could You Please" (1)

Does “Could You Please” End With A Question Mark?

The direct questions require question marks at the end, but some courteous requests also need question marks to sound better. Sometimes people use them and most of the time it is written like a simple sentence.

Many civil requests or instructions take the form of questions. However, because they are not true questions, they do not require a question mark. Such as:

  • Could you please send me your catalog?
  • Would all first- and business-class passengers are allowed to board now?

Apart from this, question marks are used in many other forms of sentences that are asked as a question. A question mark is originally used for indicating a question or query.

At the end of all direct questions, use a question mark:

  • What is your given name?
  • How much money did you send?
  • Did you send money in euros or dollars?

After a tag question, use a question mark:

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  • Isn’t it true that you’re French?
  • Isn’t it true that snow isn’t green?
  • Isn’t it time for him to go see a doctor?

Although these are some of the most commonly spoken sentences, we still make a mistake in their punctuation. But I hope these examples might have helped you correct these punctuational mistakes.

Can We Use Both, Can You Please, And Could You Please?

Can you and Could you, both of them are correct. The first is more direct, while the second is more polite.

The following examples tell us about their correct use :

  • Could you please help me?
  • Couldyoupleasesendussomesamples?
  • Couldyousendussomesamples?

Fortunately, all of these examples are suitable for using “could you” to begin with. Yet there are some differences in the prediction of the tone and the person you’re asking for a favor from. Otherwise, they are not wrong.

Similarly, these versions have two varying uses as exemplified below.

  • Couldyoupleaseinquireastowhetheritispossibletosendsamples?
  • Couldyouassumethereisabilitybutinquireaboutwillingness?

However, in practice, most people will use the two versions interchangeably.

What Is The Distinction Between Them If Both Are Correct?

Yes, both are widely used. Most people prefer “could you please…” because it is the traditional, polite way of asking someone to do something for you.

Closethedoor,passthesalt,orassistwithsomething. If I was instructing someone to do something, I’d say, “Can you please..” It is more commanding and less polite.

All in all, both of them are correct according to their contextual uses.

The Difference Between "Can You Please" And "Could You Please" (2)

There are many differences between the use of “Can and Could” in the English Language. Let’s have a look at some of them.

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The parametersCanCould
Pronunciationkan, kən kəd, kʊd
ExamplesI can’t wait any longer because I’m already late.
I can wait for you as long as you want.

Which One Is Correct: “Can You Please” Or “Could You Please”?

To begin with, “could you please” is more polite and less rude. When we say “Can you please…”, we are asking the subject if they are capable of doing something.

For example, “Can you please drive me to school?” Are you able to drive? If so, drive me to school; otherwise, leave it.

On the contrary, “Could you please…” is a request that the subject may grant if the circumstances are favorable.

For example, “Could you please drive me to school?” : That is, if you are not too busy, you could drive me to school…if that is not an issue.

Hence, “Could you” is the more polite and thus less commonly used of the two.

What Is The Dissimilarity Between “Would You” and “Could You”?

People generally use “Could you” and “would you” in their sentences. such as;

  • Wouldyoumindclosingthedoor?
  • Couldyoupleaseshutthedoorbehindme?

Part of the misunderstanding stems from the fact that textbooks, courses, and native speakers all disagree on this point. Here are three of the most common explanations:

“Would you?” is correct because you’re asking if someone will do something rather than if they can do it. “Would you” is also more formal than “Could you.”

In addition to that, “Would you” and “Could you” are both acceptable and polite ways to make a request. On the other hand, “Could you” is more formal than “Would you.”


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In formal settings, both “would you” and “could you” are used. For example, while researching US Supreme Court cases, we discovered that judges made requests using both “would you” and “could you.”

On theotherhand, "would you?" ismorecommonlyused.

For example, while both “Would you please stand?” and “Could you please stand?” are used in speeches, the version with “would” is about seven times more common in subtitled speeches on YouTube.

In addition, in casual situations, the expressions “would you” and “could you” are also used. In some cases, they are used interchangeably.

As a result, it appears that “would you” and “could you” are frequently interchangeable. However, “would you” is more common in formal English, while “could you” is more common in informal English.

The Difference Between "Can You Please" And "Could You Please" (3)


In conclusion, “Could you please” and “Can you please”, both are considered correct, but they are used for different purposes. The word “can” represents the ability to do a task. “Can I see that for a minute?” is incorrect, but it has become common usage (groan) and is used informally when the speaker means “May I see that…”

Another example is the distinction between “can” and “may,” where the former denotes ability and the latter denotes authority. The distinction between “can” and “could” displays a qualitative distinction between ability and willingness.

So, we can say that both are grammatically correct, but they mean different things. Rather than boring you with picky grammar rules and modal auxiliary verbs, tenses, and so on, it’s easy to just accept that both can be used. Therefore, use any one of them, based on the situation and type of conversation that’s being carried on.

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(Video) The Difference Between Can and May


The Difference Between "Can You Please" And "Could You Please"? ›

Answer: Both are technically correct, but the "Could you" form is polite (and preferable), while the "Can you" is almost an implied command that leaves no choice to the doer.

What is the difference between Could you please and can you please? ›

The most important things to remember are: Can is used when referring to something with a strong possibility or occurring, whereas could is used to refer to something that has a weak possibility. Both can and could can be used to make a request, but when asking for permission, could is the more polite choice to use.

What is the difference between can you and could you? ›

Both 'can' and ' could' are modal verbs that refer to 'a possibility', 'ability' or 'capacity'. 'Can' refers to a general truth or something that has a strong sense of possibility. 'Could' refers to something that has a weak possibility, or something that might happen, but is not necessarily a general truth.

Can or could you please help me? ›

They are both correct the only difference is that saying could is more polite to say than can when asking for a favour.

What is the meaning of can you please? ›

“Can you please” and “could you please” can only be used in the context of requesting something. This is because of the “please” directly after the “can you” and “could you” which suggests it is a polite request. There is no difference in meaning between “can you please” and “could you please”.

Which is more polite between can and could? ›

could is more formal and polite than can: Could I ask a question please?

What is the difference between can and could question? ›

Can, like could and would, is used to ask a polite question, but can is only used to ask permission to do or say something ("Can I borrow your car?" "Can I get you something to drink?"). Could is the past tense of can, but it also has uses apart from that--and that is where the confusion lies.

Can and could sentences examples? ›

Could as a past tense of Can
  • She can speak Italian very well.
  • I could swim, but I couldn't ride a bike when I was nine years old.
  • You can play with Amy after you do your homework.
  • Could I have some tea?
  • Can I carry your bags?
  • We could go somewhere tonight.
  • That can't be true.

Is it polite to say could you please? ›

Abhishek Srivastava asked: Should I use "Could you please..." or "Would you please..."? Both of these choices are polite ways to ask someone to do something, as in: Could you please email me the directions to your house?

Could and please can be used together? ›

We also use 'could' to ask permission; it is more polite or formal than 'can'. Changing the word order to "could you please" is no more or less polite - it's a matter of style. whether requests starting with "Please can/could you..." render the same degree of politeness as those that start with "Could you please...".

Which is more polite Could you please or would you please? ›

“Would you” and “Could you” are equally polite and valid ways to make a request. “Could you” sounds more polite than “Would you.” “Would you” sounds more insistent and is more often used in angry requests, such as “Would you please hurry up!”

What is a nicer way to say could you please? ›

Would it be possible to ... Please could you, Ideally, we'd like this by. If you could X, it would be very much appreciated.

How to reply to can you please? ›

Yes of course!/Of course I will. Yes I can. It's this way. Sure.

Is it OK to say can you please? ›

"Can you please" is a more informal way of making a request, and it suggests that the request is something that the person being asked is capable of doing. It is often used between friends or colleagues. Example: "Can you please pass me the salt?"

How do you use could I please in a sentence? ›

A third modal for making polite requests is could. For example, “Could I please have some water?” Could is the past tense of can.

What is the difference between you can and you should? ›

Normally they are two verbs that are confused by the user. The auxiliary verb 'can' is used to indicate the idea of 'capability'. On the other hand, the verb 'should' is used in the imperative. This is the main difference between the two words.

What is the difference between can could and may? ›

"Can," "may," and "could" are all used to make requests. "May" is formal in these contexts, while "can" and "could" appear mainly in speech: "May I have your attention?" is more formal than "Can I have your attention?" or "Could I have your attention?"

What are the three uses of could? ›

'Could' is used to express: possibility, past ability, and to make suggestions and requests. 'Could' is also used in conditional sentences as the conditional form of 'can'. Possibility You could cause an accident driving like that.

When should I use could? ›

Could is used to say that an action or event is possible. Would is used to talk about a possible or imagined situation, and is often used when that possible situation is not going to happen.

What are the types of could? ›

Using "Could" in Present, Past, and Future
Modal UseAlso use:
could possibilitymight, may
could conditional of can
could suggestion
could past abilitybe able to
1 more row

What are the uses of can? ›

We use can to express possibility or to question possibilities: We can go to Rome in June because both of us have a week off work. (It is possible for us to go to Rome because we don't have to work in June.)

What are the 10 examples of could? ›

[M] [T] I could swim well even when I was a child. [M] [T] She thought she could get him to like her. [M] [T] She was so angry that she could not speak. [M] [T] Could you please repeat what you just said?

What comes with could? ›

Could comes first in the verb phrase (after the subject and before another verb): We could have lunch early. Not: We could might drive to France. or We might could drive to France.

Can you or could you please approve? ›

could you please approve vs can you please approve. While both of these phrases are correct, the conditional is slightly more polite ("could you please approve").

How do you say it is possible politely? ›

Some other phrases we might use for the same reasons as "is it possible" are: Are you able to...? If it's not too much trouble...? Would you mind...?

Could you please help in formal way? ›

I would be most grateful if you could give me some help.” —

I would be most grateful if you could give me some help.”

Is Could you please polite in email? ›

Could you please…?: It's a formal way of making requests, and ask for further explanations politely. I'd appreciate it if you could…: Another way of asking for something politely. It would be very helpful if you could send us/me…: You show the person that their help is very appreciated.

Is it polite to say can you please? ›

“Can you please” and “could you please” can only be used in the context of requesting something. This is because of the “please” directly after the “can you” and “could you” which suggests it is a polite request. There is no difference in meaning between “can you please” and “could you please”.

How do you say is it possible politely? ›

Basically if you want to be polite when asking for something use "would it be possible" , if you want to know whether something is actually possible use "is it possible". The main difference is the use of “would.” “Would it be possible to…?” makes it about a hypothetical situation, asking if it is possible.

How do you ask someone if they can do something politely? ›

Here are some better phrases to make polite requests in English:
  1. “Do you mind…?.”
  2. “Would you mind…?
  3. “Could I…?”
  4. “Would it be ok if…?”
  5. “Would it be possible…?”
  6. “Would you be willing to…?”

How do you say if possible in a polite way? ›

This is considered more polite.
Synonyms that you can use instead of “Is it possible”
  1. Are you able to...?
  2. If it's not too much trouble...?
  3. Would you mind...?
  4. Could you do me a favor...?

Can you please help in formal way? ›

I would be most grateful if you could give me some help.” —

I would be most grateful if you could give me some help.”

How do you ask permission professionally? ›

Could we go home now? may is another more formal and polite way of asking for permission: May I ask a question, please? May we go home now?

Can you please or kindly? ›

Try to use it in formal emails, like "The meeting starts at 2 pm, kindly bring your laptop." Also, if you are a tour leader and you have a microphone, you want to inform everyone to kindly be back at the station before lunch time. In all these cases, you can substitute "please" with "kindly," but do not use both.

Is it better to ask would or could? ›

When it comes to requests, we can use both could and would, but could is more formal and polite than would. While making polite requests, could is used with suggestions, as it indicates a possibility. On the contrary, would is used with offers or invites, because it is more usual.

How do you say please professionally? ›

Other alternatives to 'please' include: - I'd appreciate it if you could... - It would be great if you would... - I'd be grateful if you'd... - It would be a big help if you...

Which word can replace please please? ›

Synonyms of please
  • delight.
  • satisfy.
  • warm.
  • glad.
  • feast.
  • entertain.
  • agree (with)
  • rejoice.


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