Please - adverb?

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Haylette

Senior Member
UK, English
Is the word "please" an adverb in the following context? I think it is, but I'm not 100% sure.

"Could you help me, please?"



Thanks in advance

Haylette
 
  • Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Without a comma after "me," it looks more like a VERB!
    In the way that you mean it, though, it sounds more like an interjection than an adverb. Please doesn't modify the way the help should be given, but rather expresses a quite independent idea -- politeness, begging, ... -- in the request for the help.
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    There is a strong temptation to start this reply with "Yes, but...."
    But I won't. I rather hope others will add their contributions: should we go by the book (which may have been written by someone who was just guessing, for all we know) or should we look at the sense of the word in the sentence and decide for ourselves? And what would we then conclude?

    Any suggestions?
     

    Suehil

    Medemod
    British English
    If, for the sake of argument, we assume that there was a comma in the original sentence, then 'please' is the short form of the phrase 'if you please' So no, it is not an adverb.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't know that it helps to say that it derives from 'if you please', and was thus initially a conditional clause. It's gained the status of an adverb, because it's developed a life entirely of its own. Dictionary.com clearly had doubts because it calls it, at the end, an idiom - a signal for a conditional clause that has been lost.
     

    Gorgiewave

    Senior Member
    Scotland, English
    It is not an adverb because, for example, "come here please" means come here in a manner that pleases you? Could be wrong.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    from dictionary.com:

    –adverb
    1. (used as a polite addition to requests, commands, etc.) if you would be so obliging; kindly: Please come here. Will you please turn the radio off?

    from wordreference.com:

    adverb
    1 please
    used in polite request; "please pay attention"

    I saw now in Spanish this is considered an interjection.

    Why do you think if you please has any relation to this example?
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Yes, I finally understood the idea. Is it normal to say?:

    Could you help me if you please?



    On that page you showed us, Thomas, that person is saying it is only an interjection if it goes with !

    Please!

    This looks to me like a confusing topic, or at least I am confused :)
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    ...if I may but in again:
    No, it's not normal to say "if you please" (except perhaps in literal translations from French or Spanish), but that is the meaning behind the word please.

    And don't feel bad, Ynes, it is a confusing topic -- or at least a difficult one. The parts of speech are convenient little boxes into which we like to put words, but some words simply don't fit! So we have something to discuss on this forum. I am still convinced, after all of the above, that the word is an interjection.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I finally understood the idea. Is it normal to say?:

    Could you help me if you please?

    [...]
    No, not really, Ynez. It's extremely old-fashioned. But that's where the expression comes from. Nowadays polite people say please almost automatically, and that must have changed the grammarians' view, I suspect, from regarding it as a symbol for a conditional clause into treating it as an adverb.
     

    Haylette

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    You're quite right, there should have been a comma in the original sentence.
    I'm still not sure whether "please", in this context, is an adverb or an interjection.

    I thought it was an adverb to begin with, as the sentence can be rearranged as
    "could you please help me?"

    In the sentence I gave, however, "please" seems to be added onto to the end - more like an interjection.

    I think I'll call it an adverb for now.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    My vote goes for 'unclassifiable (poss. interjection)'.
    Might I ask, Haylette, why you need to pigeonhole the word so precisely?:confused:
     
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