PLEASE DON'T SAY PLEASE: It's not as Polite as you Think


Please don't say PLEASE from LetThemTalkTV. The wrong way

Mildred, Mildred please stop talking let's discuss the plans for the conference. Please meet me

at the hotel at 9:00 a.m. You're always late please be on time we have a lot to

do tomorrow. Oh! can I borrow your car in the

afternoon please mine is in the garage I have to pick up Bingley from the station.

Everything clear? Please let me know if you need anything. Oh! one more thing will

you have dinner with me on Saturday night please Mildred? There's

a great Mexican restaurant in town. Please. Hello, hello

Today on LetThemTalkTV

we're going to look at why the word PLEASE might not be quite as polite

as you think. Of course sometimes we use PLEASE in English to make general

requests "Can I have a pint of lager please?" "please tell me how did you do that magic

trick" and maybe to ask for an apology "Please don't be angry with me, I'm sorry"

That's fine but in certain situations native speakers will often not use

please they'll use another way to express politeness and this is to make

big or difficult requests to make offers and to criticize in a polite way but be

careful because sometimes PLEASE, if you use it wrongly, it can

sound needy and even rude. To find out more then stay tuned.

Hello and welcome to LetThemTalk and today we're going to look at some

alternatives to please. As I said in my introduction PLEASE is sometimes ok

but sometimes it isn't sometimes can be rude for example "please don't be late

again" "Please stop talking." Rude, of course it's not as rude as shut

the **** up So we need alternatives more powerful

polite and more persuasive alternatives in order to be polite we need to speak

indirectly and the general rule is that the more indirectly we speak the more

polite it is. Now let's look at how we do that with a few examples.

So the first phrase I want to look at today is "it would be great if "

So you're like for example you could say "please be on time in the

future" there's no sounds a bit rude so how

about this "it would be great if you could get here on time" just saying

It sounds better doesn't it? So the structure is "it would be great if" followed by COULD or WOULD or a

verb in the past yes that's right a verb in the past. "I know you're busy but it

would be great if you could finish this by Thursday." "Please have a look at my

proposal" ok but how about this? "You've got a lot of work but it would be great

if you had time to look at my proposal" better isn't it? There are other phrases

though that fulfill the same function such as "I would be grateful if" which is

more formal. "We'd be grateful if you would switch off the music by 11 p.m".

"I would be grateful if you called the manager I would like to speak to her"

Next you can use a negative sentence with a question tag.

This is extremely polite and is often used for

asking for things we wouldn't normally ask. So for example "please can I

stay at your place this weekend" ok you want to stay at my place this weekend?

really I'm not sure but say this way and the response will be different "Hey I'm

visiting London next week I couldn't stay at your place could I?"

negative statement + a question tag

sounds extremely polite doesn't it? The structure is quite easy let's have a

look. Take this sentence "please can you help me" remove PLEASE switch the YOU and

the CAN so that it becomes a statement not a question, put it in the negative

"You can't help me" now the statement is in the negative so the

question tag is in the affirmative the modal verb is CAN so we use that one

whenever you have a negative statement you have an affirmative question tag CAN

YOU "You can't help me can you" You can make it even more polite using COULD. "You

couldn't help me, could you?" Finally and this is important, to remember the rising

tone on the question tag CAN YOU?, COULD YOU? we have a rising tone on the

questions have because this is a real question ,"You couldn't help me, could you?"

Let's try it again "Please could you take out the rubbish?" Remove

COULD YOU becomes YOU COULD put it in the negative. "You couldn't take out the

rubbish" affirmative question tag COULD YOU. "You

couldn't take out the rubbish, could you?" Remember to finish with the rising tone

COULD YOU? let's look at a few more examples "You don't have five minutes to

you? I need your help with something." "You're not free tomorrow, are you? We could

have that meeting at around 10 a.m" You can also use this

methods to make an invitation to somebody "You don't fancy going for a

drink tonight, do you?" Now it's your turn. Turn these sentences into a negative

with a question tag. "Can you lend me £5 please."

"You can't lend me £5, can you?

"Would you like to see BTS with me I've got a free ticket?"

"You wouldn't like to see BTS with me,would you?"

I've got a free ticket

Next, you can use the future continuous in the question form

to be extremely polite in certain situations the form is WILL YOU BE +

verb + ING so if you work in a hotel in a shop you'll need this form but in

other situations too. So let's imagine you work in a hotel and you want to know

if the guest wants to have breakfast the next morning you could say. "Will you be

having breakfast tomorrow morning ?" "Please can you tell me if you want to have

breakfast tomorrow morning?" that's fine. "Would you like breakfast tomorrow

morning?" that's fine. but the future continuous is even more

polite, it's very indirect you're putting it in the future making a distance between

you and the listener and the meaning of the future continuous is I'm asking a

question but I'm not trying to influence your decision, whatever you decide it's

ok by me. so let's look at some more examples

"Will you be needing your car this evening?" this is a more polite

alternative than please can I borrow your car. "Will you be joining us for

dinner?" can you say "please come to dinner with us"? Yes , you can "Do you want to come

to dinner?" Yes but if you ask "Will you be joining us for dinner?

It means, no pressure on you, I'm just asking, that's an option for you. Let me

just try and explain this in a different way. You want to invite a friend to

dinner yes you would say "hey would you like to come to dinner with me?" That's the way

you would say it but imagine one of your friends in your group is looking really

tired then you could say "You look tired will you be joining us for dinner?"

so the subtext is I'm just asking I'm not putting any

pressure on you. "Will you be wanting anything else?" Can you say "Do you

want something else"? Yes of course but saying it this way gives the impression

that you're not selling anything, you're not touting anything you're just

politely inquiring. So if you're working a shop or a call centre you might do it

this way.

The emphatic do can be used instead of

PLEASE for extra politeness especially when we are making an offer so

instead of saying "please sit down" that's okay but you could say "do sit

down," yeah instead of saying "please let me know" you could say "do let me know," "do

let me know if you have any questions." "please come in." "Do come in" very polite,

super polite so start a sentence with the imperative DO follow by your

sentence. remember the emphatic DO is not always

polite it depends on the context it just makes the phrase more emphatic. If

it's polite it'll be more polite. If it's rude, it will be ruder so you could say

"Do shut up" which is most definitely not polite. If you want to know more about

the emphatic do structure and how to use it then check out the video we made on

it up here somewhere.

Next you can use WOULD YOU MIND or DO YOU MIND. I'm sure you know this

already but we're going to look at some of the structures and the differences. So

for polite requests you can use it to ask someone else to do something.

"Would you mind opening the window?" the verb after MIND is always in the ING

form. "Would you mind going to the shops we've run out of milk?" now this is more

polite then "please go to the shops" but less polite than "you couldn't go to the

shops, could you? we've run out of milk" So you have to decide the level of

politeness according to the situation. "Would you mind if I didn't come to the

party tomorrow night?" "Would you mind ifwe stayed at home and played Scrabble

instead?" DO YOU MIND can also be used this way but WOULD YOU MIND is perhaps a

little bit more polite

DO YOU MIND is used in another way to replace PLEASE especially when you are

disturbed by someone you can say "do you mind?" Let's have a look at some examples

of that. so instead of saying "please be quiet"

it still sounds a bit rude you could say

"Do you mind I'm trying to concentrate here?" its forceful but more gentle.

"Why are you taking my cup? Do you mind? I haven't finished yet." "Please don't take

my cup I haven't finished yet" DO YOU MIND is more polite but be careful

because, of course, it depends on how you say it. If I said "do your mind I'm trying

to work here" or "do you mind not taking my cup I haven't finished yet" of course

that's going to sound rude. But if you say it in the right way, in a gentle way, in

a friendly way it is polite. It might be criticizing but it's polite.

Mildred Mildred if you don't mind, let's discuss the plans for the conference can

you meet me at the hotel at 9:00 a.m? It would be great if you could get there on

time we've got a lot to do tomorrow. Oh will you be needing your car in the

afternoon? Would you mind if I borrowed it? I've got to pick up Bingley from the

station. Everything clear? Do let me know if there's anything you need. Oh by the

way, one more thing. You wouldn't like to have dinner with me on Saturday night

would you? There's a great Mexican restaurant in town.

you would, excellent see you tomorrow.