What of these is correct? and if both are correct, what is there any difference or connotation in the meaning? or, are there different in terms of formality?

  • Is there a way you could send me the documents earlier?
  • Is there any way you could send me the documents earlier?

Also, wondering, do I need to use that before you could ?

2 Answers 2

  1. Both are valid and correct. The second might be slightly more natural.
  2. The second one might carry a slight emphasis on how desperate you are to get them (though the first one is already implying the same hurry). It's like a reduced version of "Is there any way, even if it's not easy or obvious, even if you already told me it's impossible, any way under heaven by miraculous or superhuman effort, that this could be done?"
  3. No, you don't have to include "that" before "you could," though it wouldn't be a problem if you did.
  4. Both are equal in formality. In terms of tone: both of these somewhat soften your request (compared to "Could you send me the documents earlier?"), but they're also a little bit "pushy." If you want to emphasize politeness rather than urgency, you could say something like "Might it be possible for you to send me them earlier?"
  • You have a good answer here. I would add that I feel that "any way" suggests that you are looking for one or more possible solutions, and hoping that such solutions actually exist. Similarly but subtly different, "a way" suggests to me that the speaker suspects that you, personally, have a secret method that has sofar been withheld, and you are asking/hoping that this one method will be used now. The singularness of "a way" vs "any way" is what makes it more direct to me. Oct 18, 2021 at 2:37

Since they are both hypotheticals, they both work the same.

Technically, a way is asking for one possible way, while any way suggests there are many possible ways.

They both seem to be non-literal ways to ask the question:

  • Can you send me the documents earlier?

because this statement can sound like a command, so people will use "is there a/any way".... in front of their request instead.

  • 1
    Exactly, I should have given the context. Yes I am trying to induce the other party's conversation to send me the documents earlier. So I understand from your answer, both work pretty much the same, right?
    – Curious
    Oct 17, 2021 at 21:10
  • @Curious, yes I think they both work pretty much the same Oct 17, 2021 at 21:18

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