English Usage Topics > Offers
Offering something to someone
There are several ways of offering something to someone.
A polite way of offering something is to say 'Would you like...?'
Would you like another biscuit?
I was just making myself some tea. Would you like some?
When talking to someone you know well, you can use the less polite form 'Do you want...?'
Do you want a biscuit?
Do you want a coffee?
If you know the other person well, and you want to be persuasive, you can use the imperative form have.
Have some more tea.
Have a chocolate biscuit.
You can also use just a noun phrase, making it sound like a question.
'Tea?' – 'Yes, thanks.'
Other ways of offering something
If what you are offering is not immediately available, you can say something like 'Can I get you something?' or 'Let me get you something to eat'.
Can I get you anything?
Sit down and let me get you a cup of tea or a drink or something.
If you want the other person to take what they need, you say 'Help yourself'.
Help yourself to sugar.
'Do you suppose I could have a drink?' – 'Of course. You know where everything is. Help yourself.'
A casual, non-emphatic way of offering something is to say 'You can have...' or, if appropriate, 'You can borrow...'.
You can borrow my pen if you like.
A British person might say 'Fancy some coffee?' or 'Fancy a biscuit?' as a way of informally offering something.
Offering to help or do something
If you want to offer to help someone or to do something for them, you say 'Shall I...?' You can use this kind of question whether you are offering to do something immediately or at some time in the future.
Shall I fetch another doctor?
'What's the name?' – 'Khulaifi. Shall I spell that for you?'
If you are fairly sure that the other person wants to have something done for them at that moment, you can say 'Let me...'.
Let me buy you a coffee.
Let me help.
If you want to make an offer in a firm but friendly way, you say 'I'll...'.
Leave everything, I'll clean up.
Come on out with me. I'll buy you dinner.
Less confident or firm offers
If you are not sure whether the other person wants you to do something, you can say 'Do you want me to...?', 'Should I...?' or, more politely, 'Would you like me to...?' However, this can sound as if you are rather reluctant to do what you are offering to do.
Do you want me to check his records?
Should I go in?
Would you like me to drive you to the station?
You can also say 'Do you want...?', 'Do you need...?', or, more politely, 'Would you like...?', followed by a noun referring to an action. Although you do not say directly that you are offering to do something, that is what you are implying.
Do you want a lift?
Are you all right, Alan? Need any help?
'Can I...?' is also sometimes used, by people who know each other slightly or have just met.
Can I give you a lift anywhere?
Another way of making an offer when you are not sure that it is necessary is to add 'if you want' or 'if you like' after using 'I'll' or 'I can'.
I'll drive you home if you want.
I can show it to you now if you like.
Offers to a customer
Employees of a shop or company sometimes say 'Can I...' or 'May I...' when they are politely offering to help a customer on the phone or in person.
Flight information, can I help you?
Morgan Brown, Janine speaking, how may I help you?
Replying to an offer
The usual way of accepting an offer is to say 'Yes, please'. You can also say 'Thank you' or, informally, 'Thanks'.
'Shall I read to you?' – 'Yes, please.'
'Have a cup of coffee.' – 'Thank you very much.'
'You can take the jeep.' – 'Thanks.'
If you want to show that you are very grateful for an offer, especially an unexpected one, you can say something like 'Oh, thank you, that would be great' or 'That would be lovely'. You can also say 'That's very kind of you', which is more formal.
'Shall I run you a bath?' – 'Oh, yes, please! That would be lovely.'
'I'll have a word with him and see if he can help.' – 'That's very kind of you.'
The usual way of refusing an offer is to say 'No, thank you' or, informally, 'No, thanks'.
'Would you like some coffee?' – 'No, thank you.'
'Do you want a biscuit?' – 'No, thanks.'
You can also say things like 'No, I'm fine, thank you', 'I'm all right, thanks', or 'No, it's all right'.
'Is the sun bothering you? Shall I draw the curtains?' – 'No, no, I'm fine, thank you.'
'Do you want a lift?' – 'No, it's all right, thanks, I don't mind walking.'
Don't refuse an offer by just saying 'Thank you'.
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