If I wanted to ask a professor if he would write a letter of recommendation for me and wanted to convey the same feeling as "I was wondering..(if you could write a letter of recommendation for me)" what verb would I use?

Could I say, Я размышлял, можете ли Вы написать...?


4 Answers 4


In Russian there are several conversation starters (which is what I was wondering is) that can be used in informal conversation:

Я тут подумал, а не сходить ли нам на рыбалку
Мне тут пришла мысль, не создать ли нам рок-группу

As you can see in the example above I have used them in the context of an informal request. The examples above in my opinion have slightly different "feeling" as to I was wondering even if they literally mean the same. In English the phrase implies a polite request, in Russian the phrases above have more informal meaning. They will not be applicable to request a professor to write a recommendation letter. In such cases I would start a conversation with a description of my current situation and then used something like не затруднит ли Вас..., like this:

Здравствуйте Александр Николаевич. 
Через неделю у меня интервью на работу. 
Не затруднит ли Вас написать рекомендательное письмо...
  • A literal translation of the last sentence: "Would it trouble you to...?" Good idiomatic English, and slightly more formal than "I was wondering", IMHO exactly what the situation requires. +1
    – David
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 0:06

Another option is "не могли бы Вы" or "не можете ли Вы". This sounds "polite" enough. Note the negative part "не" in all variants.


Another starter sentence is Я хотел Вас спросить... (if you are male) or Я хотела Вас спросить... (if you are a woman).

For example: Я хотел Вас спросить, могли ли Вы написать для меня рекомендательное письмо?


"Could I say, Я размышлял, можете ли Вы написать...?" - sounds wrong.
"размышлять", I would translate as "to contemplate/reflect".
"Я (по)думал(a)" - "I've been thinking", is more common.

In your case, I would probably use: "Я хотел(а) <бы y> Вас попросить/спросить" - "I would like to ask you".

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