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Useful Expressions > Intermediate

Asking for information

Sometimes you want to ask English people for information. In English it is not very polite to start a conversation with a direct question. For this reason we have a number of phras

Ten Expressions to Use In Speaking And Writing

  1. Can you tell me...?
  2. Could you tell me...?
  3. I'd like to know...
  4. D'you know...
  5. (Got / Have you) any idea...?
  6. Could anyone tell me...?
  7. (Do / Would) you happen to know...?
  8. I don't suppose you (would) know...?
  9. I wonder if you could tell me...?
  10. I wonder if someone could tell me...?

How To Use These Phrases In Your English

  1. Phrases 1 - 10 are all followed by indirect questions. So 'What's the time?' becomes 'Can you tell me what the time is?'.
  2. Phrase 2 is a little more formal and polite than phrase 1.
  3. Phrases 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are polite and are good to use if you are asking a stranger or you are asking at a public information desk.
  4. Phrase 4 is more informal.
  5. Phrases 5 and 7 are more informal if you say them with out the part in () brackets.
  6. Phrases 9 and 10 are very formal and in an informal situation some people may react strangely if they think that you are being sarcastic.
  7. By using phrases 1 to 10, we make it easier for the listener to say 'Sorry I don't know'.