For example, they ask:

Would you like to do x?

When actually they want you to do x.

Or ask you:

Do you agree with this?

and expect you to obey

  • So the question is about asking for something to be done rather than ordering something to be done?
    – KillingTime
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 10:52
  • @KillingTime like pretending to ask for consent
    – Quartz2
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 11:04
  • I think actual real-world examples would help here. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 11:36
  • 2
    People sometimes say "I was volunteered to do [this task]" (rather than "I volunteered to do it"). Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 13:00
  • 2
    It's called politeness. Technically speaking, maybe circumlocution. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 13:41

3 Answers 3


Asking someone to do something you could otherwise demand they do, is a standard way of telling someone to do something. As FumbleFingers suggests in his comment, we call this politeness. It's a cultural thing.

You can demand much more from a person when you state your demand as question. When stating a demand as a question you also leave the door open for a response of No I can't do that. I have an appointment tomorrow. So not only is it polite from a cultural standpoint, it is polite from a practical standpoint.


You could express this using scare quotes (see Wikipedia). For instance:

My boss "asked" me if I "wanted" to do X.


As Kate said, being volunteered works well here, although informally, some use being voluntold to emphasize the fact that it's mandatory.

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