One useful property of indirect speech is that it can convey politeness.
Consider these two statements:
A: "Can you please shut the window?"
B: "Shut the window now!"
Statement A is obviously more polite than statement B. However, B is more direct and to the point. It would seem quite rude to phrase it as such, so we resort to the more polite indirect way (A). Even though statement A is asking a Yes/No question, it is actually a request to perform an action.
Types of politeness
There are two basic kinds of politeness: positive and negative politeness.
Positive politeness: respects a person's right to be understood, showing sympathy
- Letting people know that we enjoy their presence
- Liking their personality
- Becoming interested in their well-being
Negative politeness: often involves deferring to others and respects their privacy
- Avoid intruding on other people's lives
- Don't be overly inquisitive about their activities
- Don't impose our presence on others