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?
“Please” can also be used to encourage or show strong interest.
- I’ll come get you when the taxi arrives.
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.