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I want to politely ask someone to finalize something. Are both of the following correct? If so, what is the difference between their meaning. I also want to know if 1 (and perhaps 2 as well) is polite. I know that 1 is widely used, but I heard someone saying that that way of phrasing can be sarcastic too. Is it so?

  1. I’d appreciate it if you could finalize that.

  2. I’d appreciate it if you finalize that.

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  • To be pedantic, it should be "I'd appreciate if you would finalise that.". could asks about the possibility of finalising, would requests that it actually be done. Commented May 26, 2023 at 1:11
  • @PeterJennings - but using "could" to be even more ultra polite is fairly common here in the UK, whereas using "would" in a situation like this sounds a little too direct. This may be perceived differently depending on region/country.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 11:51

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In all these, the difference between polite and sarcastic will be entirely about tone—as it often is. If these statements are sincere, then all are pretty polite, since they all include appreciation. (The sarcastic version would be conveyed through hostile tone and body language, and amounts to "I'm talking as if you're doing me a favor, but really you're just doing what you should have done and haven't yet." Tone can be hard to convey in writing. If the rest of your message has been polite and cheerful, this will be read that way; if it's been hostile and demanding, it might be read as sarcastic or passive-aggressive.)

There have been several examples in the question title and body. This is right:

  • I'd appreciate it if you could do that

These would also be right:

  • I'd appreciate it if you would do that
  • I'd appreciate it if you were to do that
  • I'd appreciate you doing that

This is wrong, though mildly so:

  • I'd appreciate it if you do that

We've set up a hypothetical situation with "I would", so a simple tense for do won't fit. We can use more hypotheticals, like were to do that, or maybe a gerund like "I would appreciate you doing that."

To the examples in the body of your text, not that "I appreciate" is wrong here. We need the would, or contraction I'd, because this thing hasn't been done yet. We're talking about how you "might" feel in the future. Once the thing has been done, you can say "Thanks! I appreciate it!"

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  • What about this one? Can it be taken as sarcastic? ‘Thank you for finalizing program 1. I’d appreciate it if you could also finalize program 2.’
    – Sasan
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 17:52
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    @Sasan Again, tone won't come from the words chosen but from the way they're spoken; or, in writing, the attitude that the rest of the message makes the reader perceive. For instance, maybe this would convey a sarcastic sense: Commented May 25, 2023 at 18:01
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    @Sasan "Well, I see you eventually made some progress. Better late than never. Thank you for finalizing program 1. I'll remind you that there are two programs here, so I'd appreciate it if you could also finalize program 2." That's hostile, insulting, and demanding, and only barely hides truly angry meaning inside somewhat-polite language. Commented May 25, 2023 at 18:02
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    @Sasan If you say "Thank you for finalizing program 1. I’d appreciate it if you could also finalize program 2," there's so little communication that the person might imagine that it's polite or that it's pushy, depending on how they already feel about you. Sounding cheerful might be as simple as adding a compliment like "you did a really good job on program 1! Commented May 25, 2023 at 18:07

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