I was wondering who uses 'pretty please?' Is it used mainly by girls? Under what circumstances? Thank you for replying.

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    “Used mainly by girls” is a bizarre notion. – tchrist Jun 21 '14 at 23:56
  • See also youtube.com/watch?v=deaa-RElbTw – Shokhet Jun 22 '14 at 3:27
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    @tchrist It may or may not apply in this case, but sex-differentiated language is no more bizarre than age- or class- or culture-differentiated language. It is a recognized linguistic phenomenon. See Wikipedia, Language and gender. – StoneyB Jun 22 '14 at 3:30
  • possible duplicate of "Pretty please with sugar on top" – FumbleFingers Jun 22 '14 at 13:20
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    @FumbleFingers That question is asking about the origin of the phrase; this question is asking who says it and when/where it's appropriate. – starsplusplus Apr 28 '15 at 13:34

This is, I think, an instance of ‘baby-talk’ (what linguists call child-directed speech), which is a special dialect adopted by adults in speaking to small children. Although medica is undoubtedly correct in asserting that children employ such terms as “pretty please”, “boo-boo”, “yucky” with each other, I believe they learn them in the first instance from adults.

Some elements of baby-talk—simplified syntax, a deliberately narrowed lexicon, morphological adjustments to mark word and phrase boundaries more clearly—are believed to be of value in providing a child more intelligible models for imitation. But there is a large range of ‘styles’ within this dialect, and many people adopt distinctive (mis)pronunciations and words and phrases which they suppose are characteristic of child speech, as if the child's progressive acquisition of language were not an awe-inspiring and heroic achievement but a species of imbecility to be catered to. At one time it was common in novels to represent the speech of children as baby talk—very like the demeaning representations of African-American or rural or foreign speech which once passed for humor on the stage and in literature.

Baby-talk is also used to pets, and with markedly ironic intent in ordinary speech between adults. And some children, having found that baby talk is regarded as ‘cute’ and endearing, carry some of it terms into adolescence and even adulthood. My impression is that this is less common than it was fifty years ago; I hope I am right.

"Pretty" is generally prepended to "Please" as an intensifier, in much the same way that one might use "really" before an adjective. You could double down on this intention by appending "with sugar on top" to the end as well.

The phrase is primarily used by children, or those speaking to them, or seeking to sound 'childlike' in their usage, rather than by girls; while there may be some gender disparity in its usage, the difference is negligible compared to the overwhelming shift in frequency of use between children and adults.

Children are taught to be polite - to say the magic word "please". But what if "please" does not work? A new "magic word" is needed. So one progresses to "pretty please". And if that does not work, one progresses to "pretty please with sugar on top". Basically, one has graduated from politeness to persistent begging. This tactic might work best for a pretty girl with a pretty smile; and men and boys might consider it beneath their masculine dignity - but I leave that to your individual judgment.

From the song: "Don't pull your love":

If I threw away my pride

And I got down on my knees

Would you make me beg you, "pretty please?"

> "pretty please?"
  1. used to emphasize the please .

  2. It's an extra cute way to say please . No man can say no to a "pretty please" .

  3. "Pretty please" is used when someone is really begging for something , but to someone they love generally (such as a parent or sibling) and normally when they have said NO.

  4. Mostly used by girls .

Example :

"Pretty please, with sugar on it!"

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    I don't think this is limited to girls. It is mostly a childlike way of talking. – Mitch Jun 22 '14 at 0:44
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    It is used by young boys and girls alike. It seems to pass from child to child through generations, much like children's playground games. – anongoodnurse Jun 22 '14 at 2:01
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    I believe the exact phrase is: Pretty please with sugar on top – Mari-Lou A Jun 22 '14 at 4:25
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    -1, 'pretty please' is definitely not gendered. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jun 22 '14 at 8:34

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