1. Will you use "Please" when asking your close male friends to pass you the salt? Why?
  2. When do you/don't you use "please" with them (your close male friend)?
  3. Were your parents strict in using "Please"?

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, Chenmunka, user66974, Robusto, Ellie Kesselman Sep 26 '14 at 10:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Please is a word about which we don't need to think. It automatically comes out. It is just because while growing up we see people using please and so now it is part of our culture. – Freddy Sep 24 '14 at 18:02
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    Welcome to EL&U. Unfortunately, I believe your question is off-topic for this site, as it is about social customs rather than language. Please and thank you are ingrained in most native English speakers from an early age, both male and female, and whether or not please is expected is highly dependent on context— the setting, the nature of relationship, the level ofw familiarity, and so on. I might ask a close male friend "Please pass the salt" at a dinner party; at lunch, "Could you pass me the salt?" ; at a tailgate, "Dude, salt me!" – choster Sep 24 '14 at 18:05
  • But it doesn't make a great deal of difference whether the friend is male or not. – Colin Fine Sep 24 '14 at 18:23
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    @choster That may be your view as an English-speaking person, but for a Japanese the border-line between what is language and what is social custom is far less clear. Their verbs for example have at least three moods depending on what level of politeness you wish to imply, and depending on the status of the person to whom you are speaking etc. So this is not at all an unreasonable question for a Japanese person to ask and it deserves an answer. – WS2 Sep 24 '14 at 18:33
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    @WS2: I'm well aware of your points. That is exactly why I mentioned that in English-speaking culture (and I don't think this varies across the Anglosphere, except perhaps in India) the sex of the speaker doesn't have much effect. You apparently read my comment as dismissive: I intended it as informative. – Colin Fine Sep 25 '14 at 18:52
  1. Yes, a polite person says 'please' and 'thank you' when asking anyone, including their close friends of whatever gender to do something.

  2. Only if I was angry with them for some reason, or being deliberately rude, which is unlikely.

  3. Yes I was encouraged to use 'please' and 'thank you'. And it gets you a long way in life. As I always told my children you will be truly amazed at what people will do for you, and the lengths to which they will go if you simply ask them nicely. And it costs you nothing!

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    #1 sounds like an opinion rather than a description of reality. there are plenty of instances among adults where it is considered perfectly polite/acceptable, by those present, to not use "please" when making a request. a group of good friends having lunch at a diner, where one person asks "hey, could you pass the salt?", for example. i do agree that "thank you" is used no matter the circumstances, though. – ell Sep 24 '14 at 19:30
  • @sgroves I would certainly agree that it is possible to ask the question in such a way that politeness is implied without the use of please, or even thank you. 'Do be so kind, would you, to pass me the salt' probably doesn't need a please. 'That was so sweet of you' perhaps does not need a thank you in addition. But these seem to me a bit advanced, in English language terms, for the level that this OP is currently at. – WS2 Sep 24 '14 at 20:12
  • such details seem to be exactly what the OP is asking for. particularly in the second question. – ell Sep 24 '14 at 21:53
Will you use "Please" when asking your close male friends to pass you the salt? Why?

No. I'd just say "could you pass me the salt?". It's not like I can't live without salt to warrant the connotation of desperation "please" would add. The main point is to communicate that I don't really badly need the salt; thus my friends can prioritize their other tasks with passing the salt. I reserve "please" for when I really need something, or when I know it's specifically a bother for the other person. Passing the salt is neither.

When do you/don't you use "please" with them (your close male friend)?

See above. If I really badly need them to do something and/or am aware of it posing a major inconvenience.

Were your parents strict in using "Please"?

They were strict in the sense that they reminded me about it every time I didn't, but not in the sense that I was ever punished for not using it.

I'm Scandinavian.


Different parts of this country (America) have different unspoken rules about when you use "Please". You would never need to use the word please to a close friend or family; but you might choose to use it depending on the degree of aggravation you would be causing them if they decided to do the thing that you wanted them to do. For instance if you wanted them to pass you the salt because you could not reach it, you probably would not say please. If however you wanted them to pick you up at the airport you might choose to say "Please".

To people you did not know or only just met, it would be appropriate to always you the word please when asking for something.


1/2. Sometimes.

In America at least, the determination depends less on who the person is and more on your environment. If I am at a fancy restaurant or at someone else's home, I am more likely to use please. If I am at a fast food joint or a football game, then I am unlikely to use please. Even when talking to a close friend, I may use please if also eating with strangers, or in a business situation, or with parents.

These are all examples, but the main factor is if I need to seem as though I am well educated and well mannered. This is similar to the Japanese motivation, but it has far less tradition tied to it, and fewer people will be offended by the rudeness. Another way to look at it is that in Japanese culture, the default is to use ください and other polite forms. In American culture, the default is to use casual forms.

Also, I will occasionally use please as a joke, since there are certain causes where the formalism is absurd (and amusing).

  1. Yes. In general, parents will be strict about making their children use please, even in situations where it would be acceptable for adults to not be formally polite. Using the same reasoning as above, it's a matter of making others think that they are well educated and well mannered, since the child's politeness reflects upon the parents. This goes away over time as the child matures, as most American locales view a teenager's impoliteness as a reflection on the individual and not the family.

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