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Firstly, are both sentences perfectly natural?

Would the first sentence be considered polite?

Do you see a big difference between the sentences in how polite they are?

Sentences:

  1. You like this teddy bear? Well you can play with it if you want.

  2. You like this teddy bear? Well you're welcome to play with it if you want.

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    The first sentence sounds neutral to me, while the second sentence sounds more polite. Jan 8, 2021 at 0:30

1 Answer 1

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Both sentences are fine. Sentence #2 is a bit more formal than sentence #1, but both would be "reasonable" in ordinary conversation.

If you want to be extremely, obnoxiously pedantic, sentence #1 is expressing physical possibility while sentence #2 is expressing permission. But in practice, nobody draws this distinction except for overzealous English teachers. Both sentences are ordinarily interpreted as expressing permission, and the people who say otherwise are deliberately misunderstanding perfectly good vernacular English.

Slightly more controversially, you have omitted the do-support on the question (i.e. Standard English would be "Do you like this teddy bear?"). Particularly when speaking to a child, omitting "do" is de facto acceptable in this construction, and would certainly be understood, but it is markedly more informal. If spoken in the wrong tone and to an adult, it could be interpreted as condescending, so I would advise including the "do" in most cases.

Finally, if we want to be strict, both sentences should have a comma after the "well," which functions as a mild interjection in this construction.

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