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I want to ask my workmate if he can work for me tonight, because I do not feel so good.

Should I ask:

Can you deputize me tonight?

or

Can you pick up the slack tonight?

  • Personally, I would say the correct phrase would be more like: "please can you stand-in for me tonight?". The first option sounds like you're asking them to represent you, and the second more like there is additional work (outside of your absence). – Paul Michaels Oct 28 '15 at 6:53
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I gather that you're sick and don't want to work tonight. I think you're proposing two different questions that you could ask a coworker:

(1) Can you deputize me tonight?

(2) Can you pick up the slack tonight?

(1) is really really odd. In general if I'd ask someone "Can you deputize me", then I'm asking for extra-authority. Like I'm going to sit in for my boss at a meeting where I am qualified to represent our department.

(2) seems to mostly get the idea across, but if I were asking a favor then I'd be more formal to be crystal clear about what I was asking. So "Can you work for me tonight?" Such a large favor would typically require some justification to be offered so that the person could gauge how serious the situation was. So "I need a favor. Can you work for me tonight? I'm sick and can't work tonight. I need to find someone to cover for me."

The "can't work tonight" is sort of the sticky part. Really really "can't" or just don't want to? So your co-worker might push back. You should be prepared to explain why you are really sick.

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"deputize me" means "make me your deputy" (assistant). So it will be "can I deputize you", if you are asking for help. Or simply just say "can I ask you for little help tonight" or "can I ask for a favor".

"pick up the slack" is more informal. It suggest there is a slack :-)

IMHO, IANANES (I am not a native English speaker)

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