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What construction would you use when writting a letter to a bank or your boss, asking for something

Я бы хотел попросить вас сделать что-то...

Прошу вас сделать что-то...

Я бы хотел, чтобы вы ...

In what situations do I use these?

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  • same as "I would like..." and "Can I ask you..." Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 3:07

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I think the main difference is intonation and the degree of politeness.

Я бы хотел попросить вас сделать что-то...

This is the most polite option when you would like to ask someone to do something for you. You can translate it as "I would like to ask you to..." Or "May I ask you to do..."

Прошу вас сделать что-то

To my ear, this sounds a bit passive-aggressive. I wouldn't use it to formulate a polite request. It can be used when giving orders, though.

"Прошу вас прислать мне ответ до конца дня". = Please send me your reply by the end of the day.

Another situation where you can use it is in conflicts. For example, someone forwarded your letter to another person without your consent, and you're angry about it. If you want to be stern, but not rude, you could say: "Прошу вас больше так не делать". It shows that you're disappointed and that you're very serious about the matter, but it's still polite.

Я бы хотел, чтобы вы ...

This is the way to give advice. For example, your friend says, "I hate myself", then you could say, "Я бы хотел, чтобы ты себя полюбил". (I wish you would love yourself). The main difference from the first option is that you're not asking for anything, but you're expressing a wish connected to someone else's life.

To sum up, if you want to ask someone to do something that benefits you, these are the best ways to phrase it:

  • Я бы хотел попросить вас сделать...
  • Могу я вас попросить сделать...?
  • Вы не могли бы сделать...?

And I would also add "пожалуйста" to all of these sentences.

Hope this helps!

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  • Are you a native speaker? I absolutely agree with you in everything you just explained in your post. However I am asking because recently I read a book for TORFL, specialized in writting. On it it was explained that the Прошу... construction is used in formal, business situations, no use of С уважением at the end (it is considered too emotional and unprofesional). No use of уважаемый, because the same reason, you adress the person by his charge and full name. When you say passive-aggresive you mean cold, very formal? Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 10:08
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    to my ear "Прошу" per se does not sound passive-agressive at all - it's just a regular, very frequent and pretty common way of asking aout something
    – shabunc
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 12:00
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    yes, I’m a native speaker. I agree that when isolated, the word «Прошу» sounds okay, but in the examples I gave in my post, it would come off as cold and demanding, especially in case there’s a conflict behind it.
    – ALÖ
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 12:13
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    if you write a business email, it’s better to avoid it and state your request in form of question: «Клиент попросил прислать готовый проект в четверг. Можете, пожалуйста, внести правки до вторника, чтобы мы успели обсудить финальный вариант?»
    – ALÖ
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 12:20
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    also, add explanations and reasoning for why the task is important, so that your coworkers understand that you’re not trying to simply boss them around
    – ALÖ
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 12:22

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