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An interesting thing just came up at my work place which I did not really know.

We got this text that says something like "Insert a flash drive, please." in the English version. Here I was wondering, isn't it more correct/polite to say "Please insert a flash drive."?

So my 2 questions are: Are both of these valid? Which one would be more polite in terms of displaying them to a customer?

  • This answer contains some information on how the preferred location of please has shifted in history. – Nico Mar 6 '14 at 13:54
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In written language IMO please should come at the beginning.

In spoken language either is fine as long as the intonation is matching.

The "problem" with adding please at the end of a written statement is to make it sound demanding.

Can you look into that for me? vs. Can you look into that for me please?

It's subtle but until somebody (my manager) pointed this out to me I thought I was polite by adding please at the end.

Can you confirm that I have answered your question - please?

  • Have you got this right? – Edwin Ashworth Mar 6 '14 at 11:01
  • Uh, I think you're not saying what you mean to say. Don – rhetorician Mar 6 '14 at 11:46
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"Please" at the beginning of the sentence places it in the position of imperative, which can make the please sound like a command. This usage is more direct, even though the imperative verb comes second. I think would one more often get a command from a computer or similar that says "Please insert..." than "Insert ... please".

At the end, "please" serves to soften an imperative.

But this is a minor distinction, and both ways are fine.

For maximum politeness we would say

"Could you please pass the milk?" or "Could you pass the milk please?" or "Please could you pass the milk?"

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Both are correct and both are polite. But 'Please insert a flash drive' is more regular . The other one sounds a bit awkward to my ear.

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"Please insert a flash drive" sounds more respectful; "Insert a flash drive please" sounds like the "please" was added for courtesy rather than respect.

And this is simply my opinion.

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