Using a Modal Verb to Make an Offer or to Make a Request

ALULA staff, Updated on April 12, 2024

  • Modal verbs can be used to make offers and requests in polite, conversational English.
  • "Can" and "could" are commonly used modal verbs for making offers and requests.
  • The structure for these forms is typically: Modal verb + subject + base verb.

We're going to explore how to use modal verbs to make offers and requests in English. This is a practical skill that can help you interact more politely and effectively in everyday situations.

Making Offers

When you want to help someone or offer to do something, you can use the modal verb "can". This is a friendly and informal way to make an offer. For a more formal or polite offer, especially with people you don't know well, you can use "could" or "may".

Grammar Rule: "Can" / "Could" / "May"+ "I" / "we"+ base form of the verb?


  • Can I help you with that?

    Offering help in an informal situation using "can".

  • Could I carry the bag for you?

    Offering to carry something in a polite, more formal way using "could".

Making Requests

Requests are slightly different from offers; you're asking someone else to do something for you. Like offers, you can use "can" for informal situations and "could" for more polite requests.

You can also use "Will" or "Would" to make a request. In this case, "Would" is more polite than "Will".

Grammar Rule: "Can" / "Could" / "Would" / "Will" + "you"+ base form of the verb?


  • Can you open the window, please?

    Asking someone to open the window using "can".

  • Could you tell me the time, please?

    Politely asking for the time using "could".

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