General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Is "Please" a question?

Asked by tinyfaery (44034points) December 6th, 2017

I always thought it was, but I have been reading a book that just uses a period after the single word sentence of please.

Example: Can I go out? Please. Or is it: Can I go out? Please?

This is bugging the shit out of me.

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13 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

In our general way of using the language, the word “please” is usually part of a question, but it’s not a question by itself. “May I go outside, please?” is a simple enough question for a child to ask or to understand, but in the stylized language that some lawyers are wont to use in court, the phrase “may it please the court…” while generally involving a request of some sort, is not a question.

By itself in an interrogative question (as you have presented it), it’s more of a child’s whine than a legitimate question. The simple question has already been asked: ”[May] I go out?” The added “Please?” is just a way to wheedle compliance from the gatekeeper – but it’s not a question.

Muad_Dib's avatar

In your example, there should be a question mark, as it’s an extension of the question.

In other instances, perhaps not.

“Do you like her new haircut?”
– “That lop job? Please.”

In that case, the “please” is a separate comment from the question. Thus, the full stop is appropriate.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would say it is a question. To say it with the finality that a period conveys it sounds more like a demand than a request. Like a petulant teenager being forced to say “Please.”

Patty_Melt's avatar

It is not a question.
Sometimes it is a request, with pronunciation often sounding like a question for effect.
It emphasizes the aquiescent tone of the request.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
LostInParadise's avatar

My intuition is that the one word sentence containing please is an implied extension of the preceding sentence, so if the previous sentence was a question then there should be a question mark after please. Can I go out, please? If the preceding sentence was Let me go out, then there should be a period after please.

Muad_Dib's avatar

“Please” is in the modern vernacular usually used alone, but it comes from “If it please you…”

As in, “Mom, may I please go outside?” – once upon a time might have been “If it please you, mother, may I go outside?”
So, now we get “May I go outside, mother; (if it) Please (you)?”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I change my answer. It depends on the context it’s used in. You can give an order, say, to a toddler that includes the word “Please,” and it’s not a question. “Please stop throwing your Star Wars dolls in the toilet!”
So if it’s used as part of a command it’s not a question.
If it’s used as part of a question, then it is a question.

marinelife's avatar

It depends on the context that the speaker (or writer) intends to convey. Sometimes it’s a question. Sometimes it’s a plea.

tinyfaery's avatar

@marinelife A plea is not a question? Aren’t you asking for something?

marinelife's avatar

You are pleading with the person to grant your request. It is not a question.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well plea” is the root word of “please.” I think usually it is a plea, but it can be used in so many other ways, like, “Oh puuuulease. Get real!” so that it’s not always a question.

Brian1946's avatar

Please can be but isn’t always a question.

I haven’t read most of the posts here, so please excuse me if the following idea has already been expressed:

Please can also be the start of an imperative sentence. E.g., “Please move your shopping cart”.

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