Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Hello, everyone, Anna English here. Now, if you're passionate about learning English, click subscribe and let’s do this together. Yay. Okay, to "be polite" means to have or show behavior that is respectful and considerate to other people. Saying "please" and "thank you" is a very basic way of being polite, but, as usual, for the English language, it’s not always so simple. Now, if tenses make you tense, don’t panic; I have something special for you to relieve that tension. I have a special free mini-course, English Tenses 101. All you have to do is provide your name and email address via the link below, and I'll send the course directly to you. Yes, to you. Okay, let’s look at how to be polite. Uh, did you want sugar in your tea? Did you need help with anything?” Hi, did you want to order a drink? The past simple tense is used to discuss things that have already happened. They happened in the past, and are now finished. The past simple tense is formed using the past tense version of verbs. Here are some regular examples. "Walk" becomes "walked". We walked around the park. " Live" becomes "lived". I lived in London for a year. "Wait" becomes "waited". I waited for the postman, but he did not arrive. Now, here are some irregular examples. "Go" becomes "went". We went to the cinema. "Give" becomes "gave". I gave her my phone to call her dad. "Do" becomes "did". He did his homework. This verb is the one that we’re going to be focusing on today: did. "Did" can be used in the interrogative form in the past simple tense, for example, Did you see anything suspicious? That would refer to whether or not you had seen anything suspicious in the past. However, sometimes this same sentence structure is used to ask something about things in the present. Did you want sugar in your tea? Uh... yes, I do. Now, do you see the problem? The question is in the past tense as if it is referring to a decision which was made earlier, but it really means, "Do you want sugar in your tea?" This happens a lot in English when somebody would like to be polite while asking someone if they "want" or "need" something. It can be used when talking about a desire or preference one has in the present. Did you need help with anything? No, thank you. I've got this. Did you want to order a drink? Uh, yes, please. I’ll have a cup of coffee. So, why do we do this? Unfortunately, this is one of those times in the English language when we just do. There's no logical or concrete reason why so many people do this, but here's my guess, and what many linguists believe to be true: Often, when trying to be polite in British culture, we try to be as indirect as possible. Saying "What do you want?" is very direct. It puts a lot of emphases on making an immediate decision and on the listener being responsible or at fault. Instead, you could say, "Did you want anything?" or "Did you need anything?" Placing the question in the past tense makes it feel less immediate or pressing. By making the question less direct, you also make it feel less confrontational and more polite. There are other times when we use the past tense for present events in order to sound more polite. But now we are talking about the past continuous tense. I was wondering if you could give me some advice. We were hoping you would stay for dinner. I was thinking you could go to London. The past continuous tense is made up of the pronoun, the verb "to be" in the past tense⏤was or were⏤and the verb in the gerund form, which means an "-ing" ending. This is used to discuss something which is ongoing and temporary. Again, it is effective in ensuring politeness because it makes the sentence feel far less direct or the demand to feel less con⏤confrontational. For example: "Give me some advice." is a command, whereas "I was wondering if you could give me some advice." is far more polite and indirect. Yes, it uses many more words and is more difficult to say, but if you can master this lesson and use it in your everyday vocabulary, then it will help you to sound more natural and polite. Now, before you go, you’ve got some homework to do. I’d like you to write a short story, just one paragraph, which uses 3 examples of the past simple tense or the past continuous tense being used to make something sound more polite. I can’t wait to read your answers. And don’t forget to enroll on my free mini-course, English Tenses 101; you will find the link below. You've been awesome; have a great day.