I have heard people saying:

Que: Can I use your pen?

Ans: Yes please.

and also

Que: Can I use your pen?

Ans: Yes Of course.

I wanted to know if there is any difference between these two replies(may be of context) or can they be used interchangeably?


  • 1
    No would would respond "yes please" to "can I use your pen?". They would respond "yes please" to "would you like to use my pen?", and "yes, of course" to "can I use your pen?". The word please is used if someone is doing you a favor. If you're doing them a favor, you can respond of course. – Dan Bron Sep 22 '15 at 16:40
  • 3
    @DanBron You wouldn't say "Yes please", but you might say "Yes, please", as a shortened form of "Yes, please do" (somewhat like "Yes, be my guest"). It must be a regional thing, though; I'd never hear that where I live. – Yee-Lum Sep 22 '15 at 16:45
  • @Yee-Lum I've never heard "yes please" as a granting of permission in my area, either. If it's not simply a misunderstanding on OP's part, maybe it's Indian English (or possibly British English, but that seems implausible to me too). – Dan Bron Sep 22 '15 at 16:47
  • 2
    @DanBron- I've heard it too. I think of it as "Yes. Please do." or Yes. Please help yourself." etc. And I've lived in upstate NY, Boston, LA, Phoenix. But it's not "Yes please" as if answering "would you like some." but rather "Yes (you can). Please (feel free to do so.)" – Jim Sep 22 '15 at 16:52
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    @me_digvijay Using definitely would intensify your response. That might be appropriate if a cute girl/guy asked to borrow your pen, but might come across as suspiciously misplaced enthusiasm to an immigration officer at an airport.... – Dan Bron Sep 22 '15 at 17:01

"Of course" means that the statement should be obvious, or can go without saying. Someone hearing "Yes, of course." could reasonably assume that there was no question that the answer might have been no.

"Yes, please" is an unusual reply to "May I use your pen?", and is much more often heard as a reply to "Would you like to use my pen?". However it could be a shortening of "Yes, please do." which means the speaker is pleased to let you do it. If you don't want to use "Of course", but want to be more emphatic than just "Yes", consider "Yes, certainly" or "Yes, please do."

Obligatory semantic nitpick:

Technically the question "Can I..." is about ability. "Can I use your pen?" means "Do I have the ability to make use of your pen? "May I..." is the correct form to use asking permission. However I must admit that "Can I..." when asking permission is so common that it's pretty much accepted everywhere.

  • 2
    Obligatory rejoinder to nitpick: your nitpick is not grammatical, but semantic (it is about the meaning of a particular word); and it is simply false that the question "Can I..." is (only) about ability. As you say, many people use that form to ask permission and are universally understood to be doing so. – Colin Fine Sep 22 '15 at 18:09

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