The phrases "Would you be so kind as to answer me?" and "Could you be so kind as to answer me?" could they be used interchangeably?

  • 1
    To all intents and purposes, yes.
    – WS2
    Aug 24, 2022 at 17:52
  • 1
    Yes, but they're both soooooooo polite that we almost never use them. In most situations, they're too polite and will make people uncomfortable or suspicious.
    – gotube
    Aug 24, 2022 at 19:31
  • @gotube Those ones sound like sarcasm to me. Though the expression "...be kind enough to (perform a minor favour for me)." is certainly in regular use among the civil and polite in the UK. And there is nothing wrong with a deliberately exaggerated *so kind as to..." just to acknowledge one is asking a favour.
    – WS2
    Aug 27, 2022 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


There are many here who would say that they are interchangeable in everyday speech, but strictly speaking they don't mean the same thing.
could asks about the possibility of an action.
would requests that the action be performed.
As one comment says, this form of phrasing is hardly ever used. "Would you please answer me?" is what a native English speaker would say under most circumstances.

  • Yes. Moreover, "could" expresses doubt about the person's capacity. It could be quite insulting, in fact, with the wrong intonation. Whereas "would" is so fixed a phrase that it can only come across as politeness. Aug 24, 2022 at 22:03
  • @LukeSawczak Yes, it depends on how the "could" question is asked. The tone of voice, where stress is placed on words, and also the context. With the right stress, the ever so polite sounding version in the OP's question could be made to sound very sarcastic. Aug 25, 2022 at 10:13

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