You’ve just drafted an email to your work bestie; you ask them for a work-related favor in the email. The tone of the email is professional yet friendly, and you know your friend will definitely help you out! In this case, is it correct to say “Please and thank you”?
It is correct to say “Please and thank you” when asking someone for a favor or making a request, knowing they are willing, able, and want to do it. If you are confident that the other person will help you with a smile, then you can use “Please and thank you” after making the request.
Of course, like many phrases in English, “Please and thank you” comes with some nuance. So here, we’ll explore the meaning and usage of this handy minor sentence and look at some contexts where you should and shouldn’t use it.
What Does “Please and Thank You” Mean?
When you use the whole “Please and thank you,” it means that you’re asking someone for a favor, anticipating that they will do what you ask, and thanking them in advance for their help. This one minor sentence holds all three of those ideas.
It comprises two polite words: “please” and “thank you.” “Please” is the most common and popular way to make a polite request. If you say “please” when you’re asking for a favor or making a request, the other person will understand that you’re asking with respect and deference (source).
“Thank you” shows appreciation or gratitude for something someone has just said, given, or done for you. Even though we hear these two little words countless times throughout the day, most people love to hear “Thank you,” especially if they’ve gone out of their way to help you (source).
So, when we combine these two minor sentences and say “Please and thank you,” we create a new minor sentence that expresses the request, our anticipation or expectation that our request will be met, and gratitude in advance.
How Do You Use “Please and Thank You”?
You will usually say or write “Please and thank you” right after you’ve made a clear request of your friend, coworker, or family member. Make sure you’re making the request politely, though: there’s a level of implicit assumption in this sentence, which can make it a bit tricky to use in some contexts.
One of the popular places to see “Please and thank you” is at the end of an email or message. For instance, if your boss sends you an email asking you to complete a task and submit a report, it would be normal for them to end the message with “Please and thank you.”
It’s normal because your boss has requested something from you, they expect that you’ll meet their request, and they are already expressing their gratitude for your hard work.
But take note! Your boss can reasonably expect you’ll do what they ask because they’re in charge. That’s why they can use “Please and thank you” without any problems.
However, what if a stranger randomly emailed you and asked for a huge, time-consuming favor? If they ended that email with “Please and thank you,” you might feel slightly offended. Why should this stranger assume that you will meet this big request?
This is why the conversation context is vital when using “Please and thank you.” You need to consider the people involved in the conversation, their relationship, and what they can reasonably expect of one another.
If you don’t consider these things, adding “Please and thank you” at the end of the request can seem rude or passive-aggressive. So, use this expression only in conversations where you’re absolutely sure the other person will happily complete your request.
When Can You Use “Please and Thank You”?
Usually, we use “Please and thank you” in conversations. The conversation can be either spoken or written, but it’s rare to see this phrase in academic or professional prose.
More specifically, we use “Please and thank you” as part of an exchange or dialogue, where two or more people discuss plans and requests for upcoming tasks or events.
Before you use “Please and thank you,” you should be sure that the person is willing, able, and wanting to complete the requested thing. It’s also best to use it with someone you are close to or who answers to you professionally.
Using “Please and Thank You” in a Full Sentence
When you look at “Please and thank you,” it’s pretty clear that this is not a complete sentence. However, even though it isn’t grammatically complete with a subject and predicate, we use it as though it’s a full sentence!
In English, it is common for people to use incomplete sentences such as “Please and thank you” as if they are complete and can stand alone. However, the speaker is the one saying please and thanking the listener, even though this subject and object aren’t included in the sentence. We call these minor sentences.
But what makes this so clear? The minor sentence “Please and thank you” relies on its context to get its meaning. You need to look at the conversation that happened right before “Please and thank you” to understand who is making a request, what they’re requesting, and why they can expect the other person to meet their request.
When Not to Use “Please and Thank You”
While it’s common to see it in an email or message or to hear it in a conversation, we don’t usually use “Please and thank you” in long-form prose. This means you shouldn’t use it in a report, an essay, or any other academic or professional assignment.
You also should avoid saying “Please and thank you” if you are unsure whether the other person will actually fulfill your request. For instance, if you’re asking someone a favor and don’t know if they’ll really do it, you shouldn’t use “Please and thank you.”
That’s because “Please and thank you” implies that you strongly expect the other person to do what you’ve requested. If you use it when you’re unsure if they’ll really do it, they may feel unnecessarily pressured, which can impact them negatively. Ultimately, it could lead to them not helping you at all!
What Can You Use Instead of “Please and Thank You”?
Some of the most common alternatives to “Please and thank you” are “Thanks in advance” and “Thank you for considering my request.” Both options acknowledge the favor you are asking for while anticipating the other person’s help and thanking them in advance.
Here are a few other ways that you can say “Please and thank you” while politely communicating about requests and offering gratitude in anticipation of cooperation:
- I appreciate your attention on this matter.
- Thank you for your time.
- I’m grateful for anything you can offer.
- Looking forward to hearing more from you about this!
In many professional settings – especially where you’re not the “big boss” – these alternatives can seem more polite than “Please and thank you.” The reader or listener will probably understand a higher level of respect and deference from these other options.
Polite Expressions as Minor Sentences
Even though “Please and thank you” isn’t a complete sentence with a subject and a predicate, it often acts as one in written and spoken communication. Therefore, we call this a “minor sentence” because, although it doesn’t have all of the elements of a dependent clause, it still acts like a complete sentence (source).
Many polite greetings and expressions in English are actually minor sentences. You can say or write these expressions alone, without the context of a fuller or more complete sentence, and they’re still grammatically correct. This is absolutely the case with “Please and thank you.”
We usually see minor sentences in communication contexts, such as spoken conversations, written messages, or dialogues in books and/or movies.
Minor sentences rely on the context where we hear or see them. Hence, it’s essential to pay attention to what’s going on in the broader conversation if you want to truly understand the meaning of the minor sentence.
Some other popular examples of polite expressions, which are also minor sentences, include:
- Happy birthday!
- Merry Christmas!
- Yes, please.
- No, thank you.
- My pleasure.
- Same to you.
To read more about another popular minor sentence, check out this article: Is It Correct to Say “Well Said”?
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
Just like with “Please and thank you,” it’s essential to check out the context of these minor sentences in the dialogue. That can give you clues about their meaning and usage in the broader sense and their role in the specific conversation you’re looking at.
“Please and thank you” is a phrase with a straightforward meaning and nuanced usage. However, while it may sound polite on the surface, it’s easy to misuse this minor sentence and come across as passive-aggressive.
That’s why it’s crucial to analyze the conversation’s context and the relationship between the speaker and listener beforehand.
Remember, “Please and thank you” means that you’re asking someone for a favor, anticipating that they will do what you ask, and thanking them in advance for their help. So, you should be sure they will meet your request before using it. Otherwise, it might seem rude to the other person.