0

In her work, Sabine forgot to check the validity of some figures.
Robert, one of her colleagues reviewing her work before approving it, wrote in his remarks: "Wouldn't we need to check the validity of the column 3, as well ?"

My question is:
1- Why didn't Robert simply say : "Don't we need to check the validity of the column 3, as well ?"
2- Is there any subtilty between the two questions ?
I have the feeling that the one used showed that Robert was a little impatient with her work.
Especially when using a question.
Because, if I were reviewing, I would just say :
"We also need to check column 3."
"Please, check column 3."
or
"It looks like you forgot to check column 3".

Thank you

2
  • 2
    To me, in that context, "wouldn't" seems more polite and tentative than "don't". Nov 11 '20 at 20:44
  • This is typically politeness. Otherwise, don't is fine.
    – Lambie
    Nov 11 '20 at 21:05
2

1- Why didn't Robert simply say : "Don't we need to check the validity of the column 3, as well ?"

Robert is being polite.

A reference from The Chicago Manual of Style Online:

"And according to the American Heritage Dictionary, “would” is used to make a polite request. But then again, a similar thing is said about “could”: “Used to indicate tentativeness or politeness. I could be wrong. Could you come over here?”"

2- Is there any subtlety between the two questions ?

"Don't" is more direct, and lacks politeness. There are many situations where directness is fine - it's not always required to be overly polite.

I have the feeling that the one used showed that Robert was a little impatient with her work.

Not necessarily.

Any time that one person mentions another person's mistake, we might wonder "Is he impatient/annoyed/angry/disappointed".

You could also argue that using a direct tone indicates impatience because you don't even have time for basic politeness. Thus, it could go either way.

1
  • I had no clue "would" in this context was for politeness ! I only knew "I would like to ..." was polite. Thank you all Dec 21 '20 at 6:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .