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2.3.3. The polite expression
This expresses the present event with the past tense. This is polite expression to invite or ask someone. The verbs like "hope", "think", "wonder" and "want" etc. are used for it. See the following examples.

(28)
a.
A: Did you want me?
B: Yes, I hoped you would give me a hand with the painting.
(Leech:1971a)

b. I wondered if you could help me.

The above uses the past tense, they express polite because of the indirect expression. The past tense can give the hearer them as if it were the past, and s/he feels remote. Therefore, the hearer is given the time to decline as a sense.
If we use the present tense instead of the past tense, it gives the hearer some intrusive feelings.


Time feeling


Now, the progressive form is more polite. It is derived from the incompletive meaning. This is explained in the chapter 6.

Moreover, "will" and "can" also express the polite expression. See the following example.

(29)
a. Would you show me the way?
b. Could you help me?
c. Could you turn off the light?

But their meanings are derived from the subjunctive mood unlike the past tense.


Time feeling






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