Is it impolite to use “you should”?

I am confused with the usage of ‘should’. For example, when I want to give advice to another person, I feel that it is not polite to say “you should XX” and I would like to add ‘maybe’, just to make the tone softer, milder. Is it true that “you should ” is more appropriate than “you can”?
how to give advice politely?


If I wanted to make a suggestion rather than a prescription I would say,
“You might do X,” (suggestion) instead of “You should do X” (prescription).

Should implies obligation, while might does not.

Softening my suggestion further, I could say, “You might want to do X.”

“You can do X” or “You could do X” are also suggestions, and imply possibility but not obligation. Nevertheless I find “might” to be more polite, as it attenuates or reduces the level of possibility, implying that the matter really is up to the discretion of the person addressed.

Consider this advice from

Politeness: making what we say less direct

When we speak and write, we usually
try not to be too direct. There are a number of ways
in which we can do this.

Softening words (hedges)

We can use softening words or hedges to make what we say softer.


Softer: It’s kind of cold in here, isn’t it? Could we close the window?

More direct: It’s cold in here. Let’s close the window.

Softer: Could you just turn the radio down a little, please?

More direct: Turn down the radio.
(The imperative is very direct when used in requests.)

Softer: Your playing could possibly be improved.
[giving someone criticism on their musical performance]
You may need to spend more time working a little bit on
the rhythm.

More direct: You must improve your playing. You need to spend more time
working on the rhythm.

Changing tenses and verb forms

Sometimes we use a past verb form when we refer to present time, in
order to be more polite or less direct. We often do this with verbs
such as hope, think, want and wonder. The verb may be in the past
simple, or, for extra politeness, in the past continuous:

A: Where’s the key to the back door?

B: I was hoping you had it. (less direct than I hope you have it.)

I thought you might want to rest for a while since it’s been a long

I wanted to ask you a question.

I am having problems with my internet connection and I was just
wondering if you could tell me how to fix it. (less direct and
forceful than I have a problem with my internet connection and I
wonder if you could tell me how to fix it.)*

Warning: In formal contexts, we sometimes use past forms in questions,
invitations and requests in the present so as to sound more polite:

Did you want another coffee?

I thought you might like some help.

We were rather hoping that you would stay with us.

In shops and other service situations, servers often use past verb
forms to be polite:

Assistant: What was the name please?

Customer: Perry, P-E-R-R-Y.

Assistant: Did you need any help, madam?

Customer: No, thanks. I’m just looking.

See also: Past verb forms referring to the present

Source : Link , Question Author : Qiaoyun , Answer Author : Wino Rhino

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