Conversation Tips for Giving Orders & Instructions in English


Giving orders can be tricky!  You want to be clear and concise, but also respectful and avoid sounding bossy.  This lesson will guide you through some different ways to phrase requests and instructions so you can get what you need done without upsetting anyone.  Let’s dive in!


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Conversation Tips- Hesitating Phrases in English


How to Give orders and instructions

1. Use the imperative form


We use the imperative form to give orders, warnings and advice:


  • Put your phone away!
  • Pay close attention to what I’m saying!
  • Watch out!


To avoid sounding rude when giving direct orders, especially to adults, we often soften the imperative form by using phrases like “let’s” or “please.”


Let’s eat now.

Please don’t interrupt me.

2. Use a modal verb to turn the order into a request


We use modals to change the mood of a sentence. For example, “You should go home ” is more polite than “Go home!”


Other modal verbs you can use to make requests are:


  • Could: Could you please wait in the waiting room until the doctor calls you?
  • Can: Can you please grab me a cup of coffee?
  • Will: Will you close the door behind you?
  • Would: Would you come over here for a sec?

3. Use an introductory phrase to soften the order.


Instead of using a direct command, you can use a more indirect phrase to make your request. Here are some common ways to phrase an order, ranging from the most indirect to the most direct:


  • Would you mind possibly… (+ ing) (Most indirect)

Would you mind possibly putting your shoes away? It’s a bit messy in here.


  • I was hoping you could … (+ infinitive without to)

I was hoping you could take a look at this code for me.


  • Do you think you could … (+ infinitive without to)

Do you think you could help me finish up this presentation?


  • If you have a couple of minutes spare…

If you have a couple of minutes spare, could you help me with these boxes?


  • I’d like you to…

I’d like you to run this code through the debugger.


  • I want you to…

I want you to complete this task by tomorrow.

4. Use sequencing words


You can use sequencing words to make instructions clear.


  • First, unplug the device.
  • Secondly, use a screwdriver to open the back panel.
  • Then, carefully remove the two black wires.


By utilizing the techniques outlined above—such as using the imperative form softly, incorporating modal verbs, employing introductory phrases, and using sequencing words—you can convey your requests clearly in English. So, the next time you need to ask someone for help, try these approaches to make your message both clear and kind!



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