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Please and Thank You

Two Key Expressions and When to Use Them


The use of please and thank you in English is very important. Please and thank you have their equivalents in other languages, but the usage of please and thank you in English is not always the same. Let's take two examples one from German and one from Italian in which a translation of 'please' is used in Italian or German, but not in English.

Italian 'Please' - Prego

Posso sedermi?

Literal English translation:

Can I sit down me?

Proper English translation:

Can I sit down?

German 'Please' - Bitte

Vielen Dank!
Bitte schoen!

Literal English translation:

Many thanks!
Please pretty!

Common English translation:

Many thanks!
You're welcome!

Here are the principal uses of please and thank you in English.

Please for Requests

'Please' is used in order to make requests more polite. It is is added to the end of polite question and is preceded by a comma.

Polite Question + , + please + ?

Could you give me a hand, please?
May I use your telephone, please?
Can I join your table, please?

Please for Confirming Help

'Please' is also used to confirm an offer of help using the phrase: 'Yes, please.'

Would you like to come with us? - Yes, please.
May I help you? - Yes, please. I'd like to know ...

Please and Orders

Orders are given in English using the imperative form. Generally, 'please' is not used when giving orders or instructions, especially if there are a number of instructions to follow.

For example, a teacher might give the following instructions to a class:

Open your book to page 40.
Read the introduction.
Do the introductory exercises.
Read the passage.
Take the multiple choice follow-up quiz.

'Please' can be used when giving instructions to make the order a little more polite. This is usually done when only one order (or instruction) is given and is used only in spoken English.

Please sit down.
Please pay attention.
Please fill in this form.

Notice that 'please' is placed at the beginning of this structure.

When to NOT use Please

'Please' is not used as a response to 'thank you'.


Thank you.


Thank you
You're welcome

Thank you
No problem

Thank you
Not at all

Use of Thank You

'Thank you' is used when a compliment is given.

You're a fantastic tennis player!
Thank you.

I really enjoyed dinner. It was very tasty.
Thank you, I'm glad you like it.

Thank You to Accept and Refuse Offers

'Thank you' is often used at the beginning of a reply to an offer. It can be used in both the positive and the negative form to either accept or refuse an offer.

Would you like something to drink?
Thank you. I'd like a cola, please.

Do you want to join us at the concert tonight?
No thank you. I need to study!


'Thanks' is also used in the same manner as thank you in informal contexts.

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