Where do you put the “please” in a sentence?

Please use “please” often.

English parents add a “please” to almost every sentence their child speaks… mainly because every sentence uttered by a child is some sort of request.  I have two children, and I find myself CONSTANTLY adding the word “please” to almost everything my kids say!

  • “I want a snack?” *please*
  • “Can I go out and play?” *please*
  • “Can I watch TV? *PLEASE!*

“Please” is used to make a request more polite, and means a lot to your listener, so please, don’t forget to add it when you are making requests!


The short version:  In my opinion, it is best to put the please at the END of a sentence.  Don’t put stress on it, it can make you sound impatient.  Use “please” as often as possible.


The detailed version:  Please is usually used in a sentence with the words “can, would, and could” when making a request.  Generally, it is better to use “would” or “could” in a professional setting.

Where do you put the “please” in a sentence?

There are three main positions “please” can be used in a sentence.  The beginning, the middle, and the end.  There are differing opinions on where is the MOST polite placement, however tone and stress have a big effect.  Here’s some examples of positioning:

BEGINNING Please can I have a cookie?

Makes request stronger (stressed, could sound like an order)

MIDDLE Can I please have a cookie?

Makes request stronger (stressed, could sound like an order or show irritation.  Least common.)

END Can I have a cookie, please?

Most common.  Most polite.  Not stressed.

Listen to the examples:

 

As you can see, the first two could sound quite rude or unprofessional in a service situation.

  • “Could I please have your credit card?” sounds terrible.
  • Please may I get your room key?” sounds like a demanding child speaking to an adult.
  • “Could I have your credit card, please?” sounds like you are a service star!
  • “May I get your room key, please?” sounds like you’re a professional!

“Please” when giving directions or instructions (imperatives)

“Please” is also used to make an order sound more polite.  It can be used at the the beginning or the end of a sentence without issue, however I still feel adding it at the end sounds most polite.  It depends on your situation.

  • “Please open your books to page 20.”
  • “Please note that we don’t accept cash.”
  • “Sign here, please.”
  • “Right this way, please.”
  • Please note:  when using “please” at the end of a sentence, it is preceded by a comma (,) “,please.”

Accepting an offer using “please”

English speakers will often use “please” when accepting something.  This is especially common with food, drinks, and upgrades.

  • What would you like for dinner?
    I’ll have the chicken pasta, please.
  • May I help you find something?
    Yes, please.  Where is the washroom?
  • Would you like some more coffee?
    Yes, please.

“Please” can also be used to encourage or show strong interest.

  • I’ll come get you when the taxi arrives.
    Please do!

Wrapping up

Where ever you place your “please”, just remember to use it as often as possible!  Say it in a non-demanding, non-stressed manner in professional situations.  Generally, it it best to place the “please” at the end of a sentence.

 

By James

I'm the creator of the 3A Hospitality English Program and Co-Founder of 3Aenglish.com. I lived and taught in China for a few years and am currently back in BC, Canada. Thanks for joining us here, I hope we can learn some cool new things together!