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  • Please can you help me with this question?
  • Can you please help me with this question?
  • Can you help me with this question please?

Is there a correct place for please in this question or is it just a matter of choice?

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When teaching polite language, I ask my students to insert 'please' into various sentences as many times as they can. Gets to be quite fun when they get the hang of it. –  Karl Apr 13 '11 at 14:29
    
Of course, using "can" instead of "will" might open you up to smart alecs who are ignorant of the second modal form of "can" which conveys permission and not ability. –  Kevin Apr 13 '11 at 15:16
    
@Kevin: Could would be more polite than will, at least in British English. –  psmears Apr 13 '11 at 18:24
    
In AE, can, could, will, and would can all be used pretty much interchangeably in the OP's sentence with no difference in politeness levels. –  Kevin Apr 13 '11 at 18:32

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There are four places to put the please in that sentence.

Please, can you help me with this question?

Can you please help me with this question?

Can you help me, please, with this question?

Can you help me with this question, please?

Note that of the four, the second is the only one that isn't usually set off by commas.

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2  
I would not use a comma for the first, which is the form I would expect to hear from a child to an adult. –  Colin Fine Apr 13 '11 at 16:21

This is mostly a matter of choice. I would think that putting "please" at the beginning of a question would make it more polite. None of them are wrong at least.

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"Can you please help me with this question?"
is the correct sentence for written English

The other two are used informally, while speaking hastily.

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2  
What's haste got to do with it? They are perfectly normal forms, maybe a little less formal than number 2, but there's nothing "incorrect" about them. –  Colin Fine Apr 13 '11 at 16:22

Can you please help me with this question?

is a correct place to put please.

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2  
Is a correct place to put "please". Not the only one. –  Colin Fine Apr 13 '11 at 16:23

Of all variants here I would say that "Could you please help me?" has the greater possiblilty of being (mis)understood as showing impatience or frustration. Nevertheless I wouldn't consider any of the four formulations in Robusto's post to be "wrong".

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protected by RegDwigнt Mar 26 '13 at 15:23

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