Let’s take the following two sentences as examples:
- I kindly ask you to send the letter to your boss.
- I ask you to kindly send the letter to your boss.
- It would be kind of you to send the letter to your boss. (this one would be understood the same way in English and my native language)
In our language we use the first one 99% of the time and the second seems to have opposite meaning of its English meaning.
What does “to kindly send” mean for English people?
- Doesn’t it sound rude in English? As if I was ordering someone to do something kindly (as if they weren’t kind usually) – that’s what would be the meaning in my native language. My interpretation is: “Go and do this kindly this time.” and I think that this expression shouldn’t be used unless someone wants to offend another party. But I’ve seen this expression more than once so that makes me think that it really means…
- …quite the opposite and it is equivalent to “I sincerely believe that you are a very kind person, I’m counting on your kindness to send this letter” – this is a bit persuasive, isn’t it? If they don’t send it they will make themselves look not kind.
So, what’s the true meaning of each of the example sentences? To me it’s ambiguous.
The second example is not rude in the slightest. It is a like saying “would you be so kind as to….” and is in fact a polite way to ask somebody to do something, implying that there is no requirement for them to do it but that it would be kind if they would do it anyway.
The first example is not technically correct in English, unless you mean to imply that it is kind of you to ask the person to do something, but it is very commonly used and is understood as a gentle way of asking someone to do something, very similar to the second example.