Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about how to make negative requests. By negative requests, I mean how to make requests for someone not to do something or to stop a behavior. I'm going to talk about some formal and some very casual examples of this. I hope that it's useful. Let's get started.
All right. First one. The first one is probably the most useful and the easiest to remember. It's kind of polite a little bit, but it's also very clear and direct. The pattern is, "Please don't [verb]." Put any verb here in the regular, like the plain infinitive form. No change to the verb. Just, "Please don't," plus a regular verb. Example, "Please don't take my pens. Please don't fire her." In these examples, my verbs are "take" and "fire." "Please don't take my pens. Please don't fire her." We can make very simple ones too, like, "Please don't sit there," or, "Please don't smoke," for example. These are very quick, short, direct, easy to understand requests to stop or not to do something.
Okay. Let's go to a very formal expression. You might see this on signs or you might see this in official rules, in regulations, policies, for example. This is not something that is commonly used in everyday speech. "Please refrain from [verb] ing." We tend to use the "ing" form of the verb here. "Please refrain from." This "refrain from" means don't. "Please don't." And instead of using the regular infinitive form of the verb here, we use the "ing" form here. This is like the more formal version of the first pattern. "Please don't [verb]." To make it more formal, "Please refrain from [verb] ing."
Examples, "Please refrain from feeding the pigeons." Here, feeding is in the "ing" form. "Please refrain from feeding the pigeons." If I want to use another simpler example, like in this sentence, I used, "Please don't smoke," we could use that here. "Please refrain from smoking." That's a very common one that you might see posted in restaurants like on the signs. "Please refrain from smoking. Please refrain from 'ing' form verb." A formal way to say, "Don't do this behavior."
Okay. Let's go on to three examples that are very casual. These are ones you'll use with kids. You'll hear among close friends, family members, and in some cases, these are the easiest to use because they're so direct. First one, "Stop [verb] ing." This is very, very direct. There's no "please." There's no "could you." It's just "Stop." This is a very direct request. "Stop [verb] ing." Examples, "Stop hitting your sister." Hitting is the "ing" form. "Stop hitting your sister. Stop looking at me." These are very direct. We can imagine, these might be from like a parent to their child, or perhaps, to a close friend, for example. These are used in situations where we're very close to the listener. Stop "ing" in the verb form.
Okay. Let's go to another one. "Don't," plus a verb. Sometimes if the verb is very clear, if the action is very clear, we drop the verb and we extend this "don't" sound. Let's look at some examples with a verb first. "Don't," plus a verb. It's just like this. "Please don't [verb], but even more direct, more casual. "Don't put your elbows on the table." Elbows, remember, this part of your body, and putting it on a table, like at a dinner table, for example, is considered rude. "Don't put your elbows on the table." "Don't," plus our verb and some extra information here. "Don't put your elbows on the table. Don't chew with your mouth open." Chewing is this action of your mouth, and chewing with your mouth open instead of closing your mouth as you chew is also considered rude. These are a couple quick maybe reminders from a mother or father or other parent figure. "Don't put your elbows on the table. Don't chew with your mouth open." "Don't," plus a verb.
You might hear, especially young kids and adults who are having a little bit of fun with language, you might hear the verb get dropped. A great example would be like if a kid is fighting with their brother or sister and the kid is getting punched like there's someone that's hitting the kid. The kid might just say, "Don't." Because the action they want to stop is quite clear like, "Don't hit me" is what the speaker, the little kid means, but they drop the verb because it's very clear. The unpleasant action is very, very clear. In those cases, you might hear speakers drop the verb completely. "Don't," when it's very clear we know which action we don't want. You might hear that. In lots of cases though, we do include the verb.
Okay. Let's go to another one though, a pair, "Stop it" and "stop that." Here, the difference is it and that. This just depends on the speaker's feeling really. "Stop it" means stop the behavior. "Stop that" also means to stop the behavior. "Stop that" is probably used more when we want to point out a behavior a little bit removed from us. If I'm watching bad behavior across the room, I could say, "Stop that." I could say "stop it" as well if I want to. It just depends on the speaker's mood a little bit. "Stop it" or "stop that" are quick commands, again often from parents to mean stop that behavior. Stop that behavior. "Stop it" or "stop that." You can use both of those. Maybe a question some of you might have, "Stop this." We don't use that one very much. You could say, "Stop this car," for example. If you want to talk about an object or something that is moving that you want to stop moving, you could say, "Stop this car" or "Stop this bus," for example. But when you're talking about behavior, we don't use, "Stop this." We say, "Stop that" or "Stop it." Interesting point.
Okay. Let's go along to a very casual more common in the last maybe 10 to 15 years, I would imagine. I'm not sure, specifically. But this is when we see a lot on the internet these days and a lot used among young people. "Could you not," plus maybe do that. Sometimes this is dropped. This is very similar to "don't," but what makes this interesting is it's phrased as a polite expression. "Could you." "Could you" is used in polite requests. Here, we're using "not" though. "Could you not do something? Could you not do that?" This is actually not used in formal situations. Yes, we use "could" and "you" here making us think, "Oh well, maybe it's formal," but this is actually a very casual expression. "Could you not do that?" We use this with that sort of intonation. "Could you not do that?" We use it with close friends only.
Examples, "Could you not post such embarrassing pictures of me online?" This is used with someone that we're quite close to. We make a direct and slightly sarcastic maybe request sometimes to people. Again, as I talked about with "don't," if the action is very clear, we can drop this whole part of the sentence and just keep "could you not." If for example, maybe a close friend is singing really, really loudly in my ear, I could say, "Could you not?" or I could say, "Could you not do that?" which means please stop. This is kind of an interesting pattern. It sounds formal. It seems like it could be formal but it's not, actually. It's quite casual.
Okay. Let's go on to the last one for today. This one is a formal expression. "If you could please not [verb], we would appreciate it." Again, this might come from maybe a service staff or you might see this on a sign in a restaurant or perhaps at like, I don't know, some other gathering place where lots of people visit. "If you could please not," regular verb form, "we would appreciate it." A formal expression at the beginning and at the end. Example, "If you could please not feed the animals at the zoo, we would appreciate it." Here's my verb "feed" the animals at the zoo. I have an object here. We would appreciate it, or, "If you could please not smoke, we would appreciate it. This is a formal request not to do something, and we include an appreciation expression, too. This is another nice formal expression you can use. If you forget though, this one is maybe the easiest to remember. It's good and polite situations, good and casual situations. "Please don't [verb]." Pretty simple.
I hope that this was useful for you. Of course, if you have some other patterns that you know of or if you have any questions, please feel free to let us know in the comment section. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye.


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lilian luduvico de andrade
Wednesday at 10:33 AM
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Very good.

So clear :)