Politeness is fundamental when delivering instructions or making a request. In many cases, this type of communication is most effective when it is clear and direct but also friendly. “Please note” is a phrase you can use to accomplish that.
It is correct to say “Please note” as a polite imperative command for someone to take notice of something. You’ll often see it in formal writing that brings attention to an object the person should notice, an action the person should take, or an event that will take place: “Please note that we will close at 3 PM tomorrow.”
In this article, you will learn what “please note” means, how you can use it, and similar phrases that you might want to use instead, depending on the context.
What Does “Please Note” Mean?
Combining the definitions of the individual words, “please note” means politely requesting that someone notice or realize something.
To understand this definition, let’s break it down. “Please” is an adverb that serves as “a function word to express politeness or emphasis in a request” (source). “Note” is a verb that means “to notice or realize something” (source).
“Note” points the reader’s attention to something, but saying “Please note” is far more polite.
How Do You Use “Please Note”?
“Please note” is an imperative clause you can use within a sentence. The verb “note” requires an object, so you cannot use “note” or “please note” on its own as a full sentence. “Please” modifies the verb to make it sound less direct and more polite.
An imperative clause is a command in the 2nd person that you can use to directly request or tell someone to take a particular action (source). You will use it in direct conversation, written instructions, or a tutorial.
To make an imperative clause, you can modify many verbs you commonly see in the 1st person or 3rd person point of view. Here are examples of using “note” in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-person points of view.
- 1st: I noted the tense atmosphere when the man entered the room.
- 2nd: Please note the importance of wearing safety goggles during this experiment.
- 3rd: While looking around the room, she notes that many students are dressed formally.
“Note” is also a transitive verb, meaning it requires an object at which the action is directed. This means that “I noted” is not a full sentence; you must also include what you noted.
A minor sentence is a statement that can operate as a full sentence but does not contain all the components of a complete sentence. For example, you can form a minor sentence from the phrase “Please note” and a pronoun. For example:
- Please note this.
- Please note that.
“Please” is an adverb that modifies or describes the verb (source). In this case, it modifies the imperative verb “note” by making it more polite. “Please” can modify many verbs to be more polite. Here are some examples:
- Please take that box inside.
- Hand me that folder, please.
Here are some additional examples of adverbs that modify a verb:
- She almost made it on time.
- He chose that essay topic, too.
Here are some examples of adverbs that describe a verb:
- It started raining, so he ran quickly inside.
- The girl asked nicely to stay up late.
To learn more about adverbs, check out the article Is It Correct to Say More Often?
When Can You Use “Please Note”?
“Please note” is a present tense command, so you should only use it in the present tense. However, you can use it to refer to an object that occurs in the past, present, or future. It is most common in formal or professional-style writing, but you might also use it occasionally in speaking.
Here are examples of using it in the present tense to make a note of something that occurred in the past:
- Please note the way that the presenters formatted their slideshows for the conference.
- Please note how the author used symbolism throughout their writing.
Here are examples of how to use it in the present tense to make a note of something in the present:
- Please note the exits at the back of the room in case of an emergency.
- Please note that the kitchen is understaffed tonight, so your order will take more time.
Lastly, here are examples of how to use it in the present tense to bring attention to something that will occur in the future:
- Please note that the bus will depart promptly at 8 AM.
- Please note that you will need a glue stick and scissors for the project.
As we mentioned, you’ll most often use “please note” in formal writing. For example, think of an instruction manual, directions, or even a handout outlining important information for an upcoming event. These are the most common and natural situations to use this phrase.
However, some instances in which you might use it in speech include: giving verbal instructions or a presentation to a group, giving a tour and pointing something out along the way, or even giving directions in a tutorial-style video. However, there may also be better alternatives to “please note” in these settings.
Using “Please Note” in a Full Sentence
To use “please note” in a full sentence, you must provide an object for the transitive verb “note.” You might use several different sentence structures with this phrase, including pairing it with a pronoun, noun, or noun phrase and adding a dependent clause or another independent clause (source).
Here are examples of how to pair “please note” with a dependent clause to create a full sentence:
- Please note these rules before we go.
- Please note the location of the fire extinguisher, though we hope you’ll never need it.
Here are examples of how to pair “please note” with a noun or noun phrase to create a minor sentence.
- Please note the venue change.
- Please note the performers’ precise movements.
Here are examples of “please note” combined with an independent clause by a semicolon or adverb.
- We’ve moved the event indoors; please note this change.
- We’ve modified the rules for qualifying contest entries; please note these changes.
When Not to Use “Please Note”
You should not use “please note” in casual settings, including one-on-one dialogue or casual group gatherings.
Even though this is a polite phrase, “please note” is impersonal and may seem unnatural, or even condescending, in casual settings. Below, we’ve provided some alternative phrases with similar meanings that are more appropriate for everyday conversation.
What Can You Use Instead of “Please Note”?
You can use numerous phrases instead of “please note.” This includes similar formal phrases and alternatives that would be more appropriate in an informal setting.
Here are similar phrases that you can use instead of “please note.” These also work well in formal settings.
- Pay attention to
- Please direct your attention to
- Make note of
- I am letting you know
Here are a few alternatives that have a more informal tone:
- Look out for
- Keep an eye on
- Notice how
In casual settings, it often sounds friendlier to use a questioning phrase rather than a statement. Here are several examples:
- Did you see…?
- Did you notice…?
- Are you aware…?
Imperative clauses are commands to tell someone to take action directly (source). In speaking, we use them in direct dialogue. In writing, we use them in a tutorial or instructional format.
Often, commands can seem harsh or impersonal. So, we use adverbs like “please” to modify the command and make them more polite and personal. For example, look at the difference between these two sentences:
- Take the trash out.
- Please take the trash out.
Similarly, “please note” is a phrase that you can use to make imperative clauses slightly more kind and personal:
- Note the date change for the fundraiser.
- Please note the date change for the fundraiser.
Some imperative clauses can be minor sentences, which may be missing one or more of the necessary components of a complete sentence, such as a subject, verb, or object, but still functions as a complete sentence and is correct to use (source).
For example, “Please note” is not a minor sentence on its own because it requires an object to make sense. However, combining “Please note” with an object can sometimes create a minor sentence. This is also true of other imperative clauses containing transitive verbs.
- Please discuss this with each other.
- Please ignore the previous email.
- Clean your room, please.
You can learn more about imperative clauses by checking out this article, Is It Correct to Say “Please Find Below”? which discusses a similar imperative clause to “please note.”
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
As you provide instruction or leadership to a group, “please note” can be a handy phrase. It allows you to give clear and direct written instructions and communicate important information in a tactful and friendly way.
While “please note” is best for writing, learning imperative clauses can be helpful in direct written or spoken communication. Additionally, using words like “please” will make your communication personal and friendly, allowing it to be well-received by others.