Rank of Imposition is also a very important clue in helping you select the appropriate language strategies to perform a request. This means that the bigger the request is, the more polite one must be. For example, I would use different strategies for asking to borrow a book versus asking to borrow a car.

This is true of most languages. However, understanding how big, or small, a request is in each variety can take time and requires observation on the part of the learner. The rank of imposition very much depends on the sociocultural context. One thing that native speakers of English must be especially aware of when learning to make requests in Spanish is the relationship of money and time. Often monetary reimbursement may lower the imposition of the request in English. However, this is not necessarily the case in Spanish.



Iker and Gemma are close friends and classmates at a university in Northern Spain. Play the two conversations below and compare them in terms of the imposition of the request. As you watch, think about how they differ and try to determine which one has a higher rank of imposition.

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What do you notice about the different request strategies in each of the conversations? Which situation has the higher rank of imposition?

What are your impressions of each of the situations? Would it be socioculturally appropriate to borrow a friend's laptop for a week? Would you request this of a friend? Why or why not?

List one request formula from each of the dialogues that reflects the differences in imposition of the requests.

Less Imposition

More Imposition


What other strategies do you notice in the request conversations that might support the type of strategy used. For example, does an explanation help lessen the imposition of the request in each of the situations? How many other external strategies to the primary request can you find in each of the situations?