13

I was living in a hotel for one week, and almost everyday I needed a wake-up call or a shuttle service, and so I would call the reception and say

Can you please arrange a shuttle for tomorrow 9:30 morning?

Can you please arrange a wake-up call for tomorrow 7 am?

I would like to know if this is how native speakers would say it. Would it sound odd, and not said by a native speaker?

  • 2
    Native what? British? American? Australian? Canadian? – vsz Feb 8 '13 at 16:26
11

It's always nice to be polite and say "Can you please arrange..." when making a request at a hotel. The people who work there are no different from you, so you should treat them with the respect you'd like to be treated with. Even so, not every native speaker of English will say please. That's a matter of manners, which are learned from one's parents, rather than strictly a matter of language and culture. The world is filled with rude and impolite people who don't say "please" when they ask for things; they just demand what they think they're entitled to because they're the customer, and they believe that "The customer is always right!" Nonsense.

  • 2
    Yes please goes a long way, especially if your English is poor and you can't necessarily communicate friendliness with tone and word-choice. – jsj Feb 8 '13 at 11:22
  • 1
    Your destination will also make some degree of difference. Although hotel staff are used to dealing with people of all nationalities, it would be much more acceptable in America to drop the 'please' than it would be in Britain, for example, simply due to the differences in culture. – Ina Feb 8 '13 at 15:59
  • +1, but manners are absolutely a matter of culture, in that culture determines what's considered polite vs. what's considered rude. – ruakh Feb 8 '13 at 18:11
  • @ruakh: Yes, manners are strictly culture-bound, but language is the vehicle of culture. There's a myriad of ways of being polite in Chinese, eg, but no one in Taiwan says the equivalent of "please" or "I'd like some" when ordering food. That's not considered rude, but in English it might be. OTOH, when asking for other things, ultra-polite language & flattery are the rule here, which would be considered toadyish, obsequious, & cloying in English. When Taiwan cultural values are used to write a letter or speak to Westerners in English, the English is sometimes strange. – user264 Feb 8 '13 at 23:29
  • @BillFranke: Yes, I agree. I was responding to your statement that saying please is "a matter of manners, which are learned from one's parents, rather than strictly a matter of language and culture". – ruakh Feb 8 '13 at 23:32
8

A lot of the language used in these situations is based on the speaker's relationship to people serving them. This is based on how I would speak, and I tend to be more casual and friendly with people serving me. There are many native speakers of English who are rude to the concierge however. I would start with a hello, as the concierge or receptionist is not my slave:

Hi, how are you doing?

And then the questions. For a wake up call I would ask:

Can I get a wake up call tomorrow, at seven AM?

And a taxi:

I need a taxi at eight AM, can you organise that for me?

Can you have a taxi ready for me at eight?

NOTE: In your question the sentences you use have a couple of mistakes:

*Can you please arrange a shuttle for tomorrow 9:30 morning?

Can you please arrange a shuttle for 9:30 tomorrow morning?

And

*Can you please arrange a wake-up call for tomorrow 7 am?

Can you please arrange a wake-up call for tomorrow at 7 AM?; or

Can you please arrange a wake-up call for 7 AM tomorrow?

  • 3
    +1 for actually pointing out the grammatical issues with what was said. – Ryan Feb 8 '13 at 15:42
  • 1
    I would use 'could' instead of 'can' (but 'can' is just as good). – Mitch Feb 8 '13 at 19:07
  • I might not try to start a conversation at first, with "Hello, how are you doing?", which isn't what you are calling for, and might be seen as a slight waste of time. Instead, a phrase like "Might a [wakeup call] be arranged [for 7 AM tomorrow]" would still switch the conversation to speaking as equals, but couldn't be constructed as a waste of time by anyone. – Ryan Leonard Feb 8 '13 at 23:58
  • In the context of asking for help from someone paid to provide such help (such as the hotel receptionist), I would normally start with "Hi" rather than "Hi, how are you doing?", since that sounds like you phoned with the intention of starting idle chit-chat. Rather, I'd go with "Hi, could you possibly arrange a shuttle for me to take me from X to Y leaving tomorrow at 9?" – Matt Feb 9 '13 at 6:49
3

Your example questions are not grammatically correct; here are the corrections marked in bold:

Can you please arrange a shuttle for tomorrow at 9:30 in the morning?

Can you please arrange a wake-up call for tomorrow at 7 AM?

In both of the above questions, you can replace for tomorrow at [time] with for [time] + tomorrow. For example, in the first question, you could also say Can you please arrange a wake-up call for 7 am tomorrow?

Instead of at 9:30 in the morning, you could also say at 9:30 AM. In British English, half past nine in the morning would be more common.

Similarly, instead of at 7 AM, you could also say at 7 (o'clock) in the morning. "o'clock" is optional.

Please review the other answers, but also please consider these basic grammatical corrections.

  • 1
    I think that trideceth12 corrected the mistakes. Also, you raised an interesting issue of sarcasm. So far I failed to notice but now I am curious. Could you please specify which questions (I will try to find the answers by myself then;) ) you are talking about? – MasterPJ Feb 8 '13 at 14:50
  • Yeah I did already mention that at the bottom of my post. You are right though that "in the morning" is more common than "am". In Australian English though, "half past X" is less common than "X:30" – jsj Feb 8 '13 at 15:30
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    @MasterPJ, I appreciate your comments. You are basically correct in saying that tricedeth12 fixed most of Curt‘s mistakes, but in this kind of forum, surely the mistakes should be highlighted and explained, shouldn‘t they? I am certainly not trying to single out, criticize or castigate anyone, but I do want to orient those responders, or respondents (what do you think is the best term, hmm?) more helpfully toward(s) the EFL/ESL learner. – Shawn Mooney Feb 8 '13 at 18:15
  • @MasterPJ, as for the sarcasm, I think it is probably best for me to refrain from pointing out specific posts on this forum; suffice it to say, I have read too many bitchy posts here, and far too many more on our parent forum, English Language and Usage. – Shawn Mooney Feb 8 '13 at 18:19
  • 1
    Your ideas and remarks about sarcasm and answer quality should be discussed on meta and do not belong in the main body of your answer here. – Deco Feb 9 '13 at 2:18
1

This might be a throwback from too many teachers trying to stress the difference between 'can' and 'may' when I was at school, but I would substitute 'could' or 'would' for 'can' in those examples.

Unless there is a physical reason preventing the concierge from performing the requests (all the phones are down, there are no taxis on the island, etc), of course he can do those things. But that is a different question to 'will you do them for me?'.

Would you please arrange a shuttle for 9.30 tomorrow morning for me?

 

Could you please arrange a wake up call for 7.30am tomorrow

  • 1
    This is certainly true in most English speaking countries, but is a particularly common mistake in American English (where the colloquialism "Can I get a X" is disappointingly commonly used). For this reason, someone making the mistake would likely go unnoticed by all but the most pedantic of listeners. "Could" does sound more polite though. – Matt Feb 9 '13 at 6:53
  • @Matt that's why vsz's comment on the original question is relevant! – jfhc Aug 15 '14 at 15:47

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