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Today, We’re Discussing Formal Requests: How to make, accept or refuse them

Greetings, esteemed audience! 🌟🤝 Welcome to our Etiquette Seminar, where we shall delve into the art of handling formal requests graciously. Whether you’re well-versed in the protocols of requesting, accepting, or declining, this handout will provide you with essential language tools, polite phrases, idiomatic expressions, conversational examples, and a role play activity to hone your skills in the realm of formal requests. Let’s proceed with finesse! 😎📝

Prepared with love by: My Personal English Coach


Helloooo! Just a few words of support for those of you who are starting your experience in our Conversation Club and don’t feel very confident. 

Don’t worry, we’re here for you!

On this page, you’ll find the vocabulary that can help you speak with your Club Partners (other MPEC students you’ll be paired with for guided conversations).

If you feel you need it, follow the first piece of advice in the image on the left and review all the language bits we think can be useful for you. We are your Coaches and we know you well! We know that using Idioms & Phrasal Verbs can be a real challenge, so those are often the language elements we’ll suggest you use 🙃

After the preparation (you’ll find both the vocabulary and the conversation questions on this page), we invite you to participate in the Club session. You have received an email with the ZOOM link for the session:

On Tuesdays, the Club takes place from 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM, and on Thursdays, from 1:00 PM to 1:30 PM. If you haven’t received the access instructions via email, please, get in touch with us:

If you want to practice more after the Club session, you can come back here to do the Follow Up activity (at the bottom of the page). Are you ready? Let’s begin!


B1-B2 Brainstorming Vocabulary

  • Formal Request 📩🙏: A polite appeal for assistance, information, or permission in a professional setting.
  • Etiquette 🎩👌: The code of polite behavior in social and professional situations.
  • Convey 🗣️📢: To communicate or express a message or information.
  • Grant 🎁✅: To agree to a request or bestow approval.
  • Decline 🚫❌: To refuse or turn down a request respectfully.
  • Protocol 📜📋: Established customs and rules governing social interactions.
  • Appropriate 🎯✅: Suitable or fitting for a specific situation.
  • Obligation 🤝🔐: A sense of duty or responsibility to fulfil a request.

  • Courtesy 🙇‍♂️🌺: Polite and considerate behavior towards others.
  • Acknowledgment 🙌📨: A response indicating receipt or understanding of a request.

5 Idioms (with definitions and sample sentences)

  • Bend over backward 🔄🎢: To make a great effort to accommodate a formal request. The team is willing to bend over backward to meet the client’s demands.
  • Put in a good word 💬🗣️: To advocate or recommend someone for a formal request. I’ll put in a good word for you with the hiring manager.
  • A favor of your reply 🙏📩: A polite way to request a response to a formal inquiry. Please let us know your availability at your earliest convenience.
  • Play by the rules 📜🎲: To adhere to established protocols when making a formal request. We should play by the rules to ensure fairness in the selection process.
  • Go the extra mile 🚀🏃‍♀️: To make an additional effort beyond what is expected for a formal request. The company went the extra mile to accommodate the special requirements.

Here come 6 Phrasal Verbs and their (more) Formal Synonyms:

Follow up on 🕵️‍♂️📆: To pursue or check the progress of a formal request.

  • Inquire about: I will inquire about your application status next week.
  • Monitor: We will monitor the progress of your request and provide updates.
  • Check on: Let me check on the status of your application and get back to you.

Turn down 🚫🔇: To decline or reject a formal request politely.

  • Refuse: She had to refuse the invitation due to a prior commitment.
  • Decline: Unfortunately, we must decline your proposal at this time.
  • Regretfully reject: We regretfully reject your application for the position.

Phrasal Verb: Point out 👉🗣️ To draw attention to or highlight something in a formal context.

  • Highlight: During the presentation, she highlighted the key features of the new product.
  • Emphasise: She emphasised the importance of adhering to the company’s policies.
  • Draw attention to: He drew attention to the potential risks associated with the project.
  • Bring to light: The report brought to light the issues that needed immediate attention.
  • Indicate: The data indicated a significant increase in customer satisfaction.

Reach out to 🤝👥: To initiate communication or make a formal request to someone.

  • Contact: Feel free to contact the HR department for further information.
  • Approach: You can approach the customer support team for assistance.
  • Communicate with: I will communicate with the team lead to address the matter.

Agree to 🤝✅: To accept or grant a formal request.

  • Consent to: He consented to extend the deadline for submitting the report.
  • Approve: The committee has approved your funding request.
  • Give permission for: We give permission for your proposal to proceed.

Get back to 📞🗓️: To respond to a formal request at a later time.

  • Respond by: I’ll review the proposal and respond by tomorrow.
  • Reply at: I will gather the necessary information and reply at the earliest.
  • Revert by: Let me look into the matter and revert by the end of the week.

Round 1: Communication and Clarity

  1. How do you approach making formal requests in professional settings?
  2. Share an experience where you had to graciously accept a formal request that you initially hesitated to approve.
  3. What are some common formal phrases you use when declining a request with courtesy?
  4. How do cultural differences influence the way formal requests are made and accepted in different countries?
  5. Have you ever encountered challenging situations where you needed to handle multiple formal requests simultaneously?

Round 2: Let’s Explore it!

  • What strategies do you employ to ensure your formal requests are appropriate and respectful?
  • How do you respond to formal requests that are beyond your capacity to fulfil?
  • Share a memorable instance where a formal request led to a positive and productive outcome.
  • How do you navigate the balance between fulfilling formal requests and managing personal or work obligations?
  • What are your go-to methods for acknowledging formal requests promptly and professionally?

Round 3: The Final One, So We Role Play!

In pairs, take turns participating in a simulated role play of formal requests. One of you will make a request, and the other will need to respond.

Use the vocabulary, phrasal verbs, and idioms from the handout to make the role play authentic and polite. Emphasise the importance of courtesy and professionalism in your interactions.

Student A: Making a Formal Request

  1. Begin the role play by greeting Student B in a formal manner, e.g., “Good morning, Mr. Smith. I hope you’re doing well.”
  2. Clearly state your formal request using appropriate language, e.g., “I am here to formally request an extension for the project deadline.”
  3. Provide necessary details or reasons for the request, e.g., “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we require an additional week to ensure the quality of the deliverables.”
  4. Use polite phrases to express the request, e.g., “I would greatly appreciate your consideration in granting this extension.”
  5. If Student B asks for further details or clarification, respond accordingly with professionalism and clarity.
  6. Thank Student B for their time and consideration at the end of the role play, e.g., “Thank you for considering my request.”

Instructions for Student B (Answering a Formal Request):

  1. Begin the role play by acknowledging Student A’s greeting, e.g., “Good morning, Ms. Johnson. I hope you’re doing well too.”
  2. Listen actively to Student A’s formal request and refrain from interrupting during their explanation.
  3. Respond with a polite and considerate tone, e.g., “Thank you for submitting your formal request for the project deadline extension.”
  4. If accepting the request, respond positively and provide necessary confirmation, e.g., “We understand the situation and will grant the extension as requested.”
  5. If declining the request, respond with empathy and offer a suitable explanation, e.g., “We appreciate your request, but unfortunately, we are unable to grant the extension due to existing project commitments.”
  6. Seek clarification if needed before providing a final response, e.g., “Could you please provide more details about the specific requirements for the extension?”
  7. End the role play with a courteous closing, e.g., “Thank you for reaching out to us. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.”

After The Club: The Follow Up

Sounding Formal or Informal In English by the BBC


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