So, I have been with a friend shopping.

After we bought almost everything, I have seen some shoes and I wanted to suggest him nicely then he can get some this shoes. He answered me rudely that he is good and big "No".

This how it happened:

We were talking about clothes in Global, then I saw good shoes and I told him: "You can buy those shoes too." He replied "No, I am good." and I asked him "Did you take it as order?" and he said yes.

Since my English is not my mother tongue, I felt like I have made an order to him and I ask him did you take it as an order? He said yes.

So was my phrase, "You can buy those shoes too" an order?

  • 1
    It's impossible to say how what you said was interpreted without knowing exactly what you said and in what tone of voice you said it, and probably exactly what was said beforehand. Jul 10, 2020 at 14:34
  • We were talking about clothes in Global, then I saw good shoes and I told him: you can buy those shoes too. He replied No, I am good and I asked him did you take it as order and he said yes.
    – Yaakov
    Jul 10, 2020 at 14:41
  • Please edit this information into the question. Jul 10, 2020 at 14:41
  • 1
    Your friend would best be able to explain why this was an order/command. He knows what you said and why he interpreted it as he did. Other than that you will likely be receiving people's opinions on why your friend felt as he did. Consider your friend's opinion the best one.
    – EllieK
    Jul 10, 2020 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


The sentence on its own is ambiguous:

You can buy those shoes too.

It might be an order, or it might not be.

The following is an order:

Buy those shoes too!

Meanwhile, a suggestion would look different:

You could buy those shoes too.

The sentence in the question falls somewhere between those two, and cannot be interpreted without further context such as tone of voice and body language.

Did you speak quickly and emphatically, in an almost aggressive manner? That would most likely be interpreted as an order.

Did you speak calmly and slowly, and raise your voice at the end? That would most likely be interpreted as a suggestion.

Since the written sentence in the question does not end with an exclamation point, and you can is used at the start, I would personally be more likely to interpret it as a suggestion. But that's only because I'm not listening to tone of voice or looking at body language.

  • Next Time I will always use could instead of can to avoid any confusion
    – Yaakov
    Jul 10, 2020 at 16:33
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    @Yaakov You have to be careful, though. Because any sentence can be interpreted as an order with the right body language and intonation. If I shout at somebody, "Please, I'd like it if you went to the store!" and perhaps accompany that by pointing at them and stamping my foot, it would be seen as an order. However, purely in terms of the wording itself, could should lead to less confusion than can. Jul 10, 2020 at 16:54

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