What Do You Mean When You Say Please?

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How do you use the words please and thank you?

How do you use the words please and thank you?

When most people say please and thank you, it is probably more instinctive and reflexive than anything else; after all, the habit is ingrained in us from the time that we are children. Further, not saying please or thank you in our culture today is often regarded as rude. But what are you really saying when you utter these phrases?

When You Say Please…

We use “please” in a variety of ways today. When someone says, “Pass the peas, please,” they are asking for someone to extend them a basic courtesy. When a sign reads, “Do not touch, please,” they are using ‘please’ as a command. Further, if a person rolls their eyes while saying, “puh-leeease,” they are probably expressing insincerity and doubt.

Please is derived from the phrase, “if you please,” meaning to do something only if it pleases the person whom you’re asking. However, we fail to use it this way. Next time you say please, think about what it means for the other person – is what you’re asking pleasing for them? Will you be in their debt afterwards? Are you genuine in your request?

So much of language is perfunctory to ask, meaning we say things automatically without thinking. The more conscious we are of our words, the more powerful they are.

Learn about ‘thank you’ tomorrow.

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