Author Topic: "Please" as a verb  (Read 1469 times)

Offline Linguist-wannabe

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"Please" as a verb
« on: December 16, 2015, 08:16:11 AM »
Hello everyone!
I've got a question. Exactly:
Can we use "please" as a verb? For example, I want to say, that he or she pleased for that. Is it allowed and correct in English? Thank You for all the answers,
regards!  :D

Offline Daniel

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Re: "Please" as a verb
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2015, 09:53:34 AM »
No.

However, historically it was a verb, and could be used like "please to help me" as a command, or "if you please" (which is still possible today, but very formal) as in French s'il vous plaît.

Today, it's only used as a politeness marker in commands: "please [verb]", as in "Please help!", etc.

There is also a verb "please", meaning "to make someone enjoy something". That participle/adjective "pleased" is often used to describe what you are asking: "He or she was pleased by that". So yes, in a sense you can use it as a verb like that, but a little differently.

Also, the inverse of "the book pleases me" (which is a little unusual to say, though possible) would be "I enjoy the book" (or more casually just "I like the book").

The best way to say your sentence is probably "He or she enjoyed that".
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Offline Linguist-wannabe

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Re: "Please" as a verb
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2015, 10:44:35 AM »
Thank You, this is exactly what I had on my mind.
Best regards!

Offline Audiendus

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Re: "Please" as a verb
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2017, 07:22:16 PM »
However, historically it was a verb, and could be used like "please to help me" as a command, or "if you please" (which is still possible today, but very formal) as in French s'il vous plaît.
Similarly, "will/would/can/could you please do X". (Should "please" still be regarded as a verb in such instances?)

Also, this verb survives in sentences such as "I do as I please" and "You can do what you please".


Offline Daniel

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Re: "Please" as a verb
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2017, 09:09:53 PM »
Quote
Similarly, "will/would/can/could you please do X". (Should "please" still be regarded as a verb in such instances?)
No. It's an adverb. Note that for example it's the same placement as 'not'.

Quote
Also, this verb survives in sentences such as "I do as I please" and "You can do what you please".
Those are idioimatic (or just a different meaning), but you are correct.
Of course 'please' also more generally survives as a verb as in "It pleases me", but not in the sense given in the original question here. I suppose that the transitive ("it pleases me") sense was detransitivized (e.g., middle voice?) as in "I please [myself]", and that usage has mostly disappeared except for some idioms (like you gave) and the later grammaticalization as a politeness marker/adverb.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 10:31:54 PM by Daniel »
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Offline Audiendus

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Re: "Please" as a verb
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2017, 09:49:12 PM »
I suppose that the transitive ("it pleases me") sense was detransitivized (e.g., middle voice?) as in "I please [myself]", and that usage has mostly disappeared except for some idioms (like you gave) and the later grammaticalization as a politeness marker/adverb.
Thanks.

I would have thought that the meaning in "I do as I please" is closer to the old "please to help me" than to "the book pleases me". The first two have the idea of "be pleased to", "be willing to", "wish", whereas the third has quite a distinct meaning, i.e. "give pleasure to".

Offline Daniel

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Re: "Please" as a verb
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2017, 10:32:45 PM »
Quote
I would have thought that the meaning in "I do as I please" is closer to the old "please to help me" than to "the book pleases me". The first two have the idea of "be pleased to", "be willing to", "wish", whereas the third has quite a distinct meaning, i.e. "give pleasure to".
Yes, that is the middle-voice, intransitive, (pseudo-reflexive) "I please [myself] by/to...", still found (only) in those idiomatic cases.
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