As you’ve probably noticed, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are used a lot by English native speakers.

It’s easy enough to add a generous sprinkling of ‘thank yous to your English emails:

  • Thank you for getting in touch.
  • Thanks for calling.
  • Thank you very much for all your support.
  • Many thanks for making my stay so enjoyable.

But ‘please is a little more difficult.

An instruction or a request?

Starting a sentence with ‘please’ is fine if you’re giving instructions or orders:

  • Please send me your feedback by the end of the week.
  • Please let me know if there are any problems.
  • Please keep off the grass!
  • Please don’t touch.

But to make a polite request, put ‘please’ at the end of the sentence – preceded by a comma:

  • May I use your phone, please?

Here are some other polite ways to ask someone to do something:

  • Could you get back to me this afternoon, please?
  • Do you think you could stand in for me tomorrow?
  • Would you mind sending me the report again, please? I seem to have lost it.
  • I was wondering if you could help me with this report.

In these sentences the word ‘please’ is optional. In written communication it’s probably safer to include it.

Don’t overdo it!

Would you (please) be so kind as to … is usually a bit much. It’s very formal and the recipient could think you’re being ironic or sarcastic.

Try using the following for bigger requests:

  • I’d really appreciate it if you could send me the figures by the end of the week.

(In this sentence, no ‘please’ is needed.)


Posted on Sep 15, 2014 in improving relationships
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Porträt Nicola Bartlett
Nicola Bartlett
I’ve been an English trainer for over 25 years, helping adults to get their message across in English – clearly and appropriately. Successful communication in English requires more than just a good knowledge of the language. An understanding of different mentalities and a feeling for the best approach are vital, too. » more