General Writing and Grammar Help/will/.

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Question
QUESTION: Hi

How are you?

What is the difference between a) and b)?

a) WILL you shut the door, please?

b) WOULD you shut the door, please?

Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Hame!

Sorry to take so long to get back to you: I got a new computer and had trouble logging on to this site.  :P

The answer is very simple: the register is different.

Register is a measure of how formal and/or polite an expression is.

Quite simply, "Would" sounds more formal/polite than "Will".  Generally speaking, "Will you...?" requests are more appropriate with people you are familiar with, like friends or family.  "Would" is then more appropriate with other types of people.

Hope that helps!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your nice answer. Brian, I was talking with a native speaker about the difference and she asked me not to use WILL because she said WILL is a more of a direct order and/or request of someone who is probably of a lower status or of a younger age than the speaker.

She said I should just use WOULD.

What do you think about the answer?

Thank you

Answer
Hi Hame!

Connotatively, she has the right idea, but denotatively she's wrong.  As questions they are equivalent: they are both just making a request.

However, your friend is right in that because "will" is less formal than "would", it sounds a little less considerate.  This doesn't mean that it treats the listener as having a "lower status" or anything like that, though; friends or spouses will often use "will" with each other instead of "would".  However, I would be careful about using it with people you are not familiar with.

Hope that helps!

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Brian

Expertise

Anything to do with word usage and/or grammar, plus the fundamentals on almost any type of writing (especially creative writing, such as poetry, short stories, movie/dramatic scripts, etc.)

Experience

Majored in English literature in college; have published short stories and poems, currently teaching English as a second language to foreigners

Education/Credentials
As mentioned above, a bachelor's in English Literature and also a CELTA certification which enables me to teach English as a second language to foreigners.

Awards and Honors
Editor's Choice for a national poetry contest. 2nd prize for a short story in a city-wide short story contest.

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