“Please” in French is s’il vous plait or s’il te plait, at least most often. But language is a subtle thing and there are several other ways to say “please” in French.
Some of these are used a lot in everyday life, while others are far more formal. But all of them are at least good to recognize. So, if you want to take your polite French vocabulary to the next level, please read this article!
How to say “Please” in French
Although there aren’t as many ways to say “please” as there are ways to say “Thank you” in French, there are at least nine that you should know how to use or recognize.
The standard “please”: s’il vous plait/s’il te plait
S’il vous plait – literally “If it pleases you” – is the most common way to say “please” in French. It can be used in formal or informal conversations and in pretty much any situation.
When you’re talking to a friend, family member, partner, or anyone else you’d use the tu form with instead of vous, s’il vous plait becomes s’il te plait.
Remember that even if you address them all as tu individually, if you’re talking to more than one person, you still have to use vous, and, thus, s’il vous plait.
S’il vous plait or s’il te plait typically goes at the end of a sentence, but you may see it placed at the start, especially if the speaker wants to imply a sense of urgency or begging, or if it’s being used as a polite way to get attention.
On rare occasions, it may even be used on its own, a bit like Pardon.
Asseyez-vous, s’il vous plait. (Please sit down.)
Je prendrai le steak frites, s’il vous plait. (I’ll have the steak and French fries, please.)
Tu peux me donner l’adresse, s’il te plait? (Could you give me the address, please?)
S’il te plait, dis oui ! (Please say yes!)
S’il vous plait – vous avez oublié nos couverts. (Excuse me! You forgot our silverware.)
Ne mets pas tes pieds sur la table, s’il te plait! (Please don’t put your feet on the table!)
Silence, s’il vous plait ! (Quiet, please!)
Fun fact: Note that for Francophones from Belgium, S’il vous plait can sometimes also be used to mean “you’re welcome” (in reply to “thank you”). This is typically only used in professional situations.
The texting “please”: svp/stp
The French are very polite, so it’s normal to see someone include “please” even in a quick text or internet exchange. But since s’il vous plait and s’il te plait take a long time to type, the abbreviation svp or stp is used in informal communications, including chatroom discussions, texts to friends and family, and messages on sites where people sell things.
For things like formal emails and professional texts or texts with an older French person, it’s best to use the unabbreviated form.
Est-ce que le vélo est tjrs disponible svp? (Is the bike still available, pls?)Dis-moi stp. (Tell me, please.)
Polite, impersonal “pleases” in French
While s’il vous plait and s’il te plait can be used with just about anyone, there are a number of ways to say “please” in French that are more polite and that imply a certain distance. You’ll find these in things like formal correspondance, printed instructions, signage, and more.
Their formal, impersonal connotation would make them strange or even insulting to use with someone you know or are trying to be friendly with, so it’s usually best to stick with good old s’il vous plait or s’il te plait when talking to someone in French.
But since you’re likely to run into them in various places and situations, it’s good to recognize these polite, impersonal “pleases”.
The polite “please”: Merci de…
This is the equivalent of “Thank you for…” in English. Both are polite requests, rather than thanking someone for something, so they fall into the “please” category.
Merci de bien fermer la porte derrière vous. (Thank you for closing the door behind you./Please close the door behind you.)
Merci d’eteindre la lumiere quand vous quittez votre chambre. (Thank you for turning off the light when you leave the room/Please turn off the light when you leave the room.)Merci de ne pas laisser cette porte ouverte. (Please do not leave this door open.)
The very polite “please”: Veuillez…
This form of “please” is the verb vouloir (to want) in its second person imperative form, with vous. It’s never used in its tu form, since it’s extremely formal and often addresses the general public.
Veuillez remplir le formulaire ci-dessous. (Please/Kindly fill out the form below.)
Veuillez signaler tout abus a la direction. (Please notify the manager of any infringement of the rules.)
Veuillez vérifier de n’avoir rien oublié. (Please/Kindly be sure you haven’t left anything behind.)
The order “please”: Merci de bien vouloir…
Sometimes you don’t just use “please” with a request, but with an order. In informal or face-to-face situations, or if you want to be polite but very firm, s’il vous plait or s’il te plait could work, but in professional or formal situations, as well as in situations where customer service and extreme politeness are called for, you would use Merci de bien vouloir, which literally translates to “Please really want to…” and is the equivalent of “Please be so kind as to” in English.
Merci de bien vouloir transmettre ce document à votre agence. (Please be so kind as to send this document to your local agency.)
Merci de bien vouloir nous contacter. (Please be so kind as to contact us.)
The ultra polite instructions “please”: Prière de bien vouloir…
Another ultra polite French “please”, Prière de bien vouloir… is used to give instructions to someone who you feel you really shouldn’t be giving instructions to – say, paying guests, uber-wealthy clients who only want to do what pleases them, or a visiting monarch. That’s why it can be roughly literally translated as “We/I beg you to please want to…”
Prière de bien vouloir mettre vos serviettes dans le panier. (Please be so kind as to put your towels in the basket.)
Prière de bien vouloir recycler vos bouteilles. (We ask that you kindly recycle your bottles.)
Prière de bien vouloir éteindre la lumière avant de quitter la chambre. (Please be so kind as to turn off the light when you leave the (hotel) room.)
The polite “do not” please: Prière de ne pas…
As you might have noticed, the previous super polite “pleases” are usually used with neutral or affirmative statements. What about if you want to say “Please do not…” or “We thank you for not…”. Then, you’d use Prière de ne pas – literally: A prayer to not… – in other words: We request you to refrain from….
Prière de ne pas… can be used in general polite situations, as in instructions you’d see at a hotel or tourist attraction, but also signage in a place full of high-end clients.
Prière de ne pas déranger. (Please do not disturb) – This is the standard phrase on a “Do not disturb” sign at a French hotel.
Prière de ne pas fumer. (Kindly refrain from smoking) – This is a typical but polite version of “No smoking” in French.
Prière de ne pas sonner après 20h. (Please do not ring after 8 pm.)
How to say “Yes please!” in French
If you’re an enthusiastic person like me, you may be wondering how to say “Yes please!” in French. This is a sentiment that can be expressed in a number of ways, but the two most common ways of saying “yes please” in French are avec plaisir and oui volontiers.
Avec plaisir ! (Literally: With pleasure!)
– Voudrais-tu m’accompagner au bal ? (Would you like to go to the dance with me?)
– Avec plaisir! (Yes please!/Yes, with pleasure!)
Oui volontiers ! (Literally: Yes, gladly/Yes, willingly)
–Vous voudriez une glace ? (Would you like an ice cream?)
–Oui volontiers! (Yes please!)
Sometimes you can also see this used without the oui.
– Tu veux venir avec moi ? (Do you want to come with me?)
– Volontiers ! (Yes please/With pleasure!)
Do you have a favorite way to say “please” in French? Please feel free to share it in the comments!