Best Way to Say “PLEASE” in Italian [Ep. 14]

By Manu Venditti | All Levels

Aug 31

Jim asks:
What's the best way to say PLEASE in Italian?

OR... Should I use PER FAVORE or PER PIACERE?

Case 1 - When making a request

The 3 most common expressions to say "PLEASE" are: PER FAVORE
PER PIACERE
PER CORTESIA

They are all interchangeable. 

PER CORTESIA tends to be more formal so I would reserve that for your formal interactions (people you don’t know, older people etc).

Between PER FAVORE and PER PIACERE, I often suggest English speakers to use PER FAVORE, simply because most English speakers are familiar with the Spanish phrase “POR FAVOR”, which is very similar to the Italian “PER FAVORE” .

The important thing here is that you are making a request!

Some examples

MI FA UN CAFFÈ, PER FAVORE?
Could you please make me a coffee?

MI PUOI DARE UN PASSAGGIO, PER PIACERE?
Can you give me a ride, please?

PER CORTESIA, SI SIEDA.
Please, sit down.


Case 2 - Accepting an offer

In English, we often say PLEASE when accepting an offer.

– WOULD YOU LIKE BREAD WITH YOUR SALAD?
– YES, PLEASE.

This does not work in Italian.


When ACCEPTING AN OFFER, in Italian you must say THANK YOU, not PLEASE!

– VUOLE DEL PANE CON L’INSALATA?
– SÌ, GRAZIE!

Some examples

– SE VUOI POSSO DARTI UN PASSAGGIO…
– SÌ, GRAZIE!
– If you want I can give you a ride…
– yes, please!

– LE PORTO IL DESSERT?
– SÌ, GRAZIE!
– Shall I bring you dessert?
– Yes, please!


Case 3 - When making an invitation / concession

When YOU are the one who is INVITING SOMEONE TO DO SOMETHING, or simply giving them permission to do something
(i.e. to come through, to sit down, to place their order etc), then you would use a completely different expression:

PREGO

Some examples

PREGO, ENTRI!
Please, come in!

PREGO, MI DICA!
Please, tell me!
(usually used by shopkeepers to invite the customer to place their order or make their request)

PREGO is the word of choice any time you would say PLEASE in English, but in the context of you MAKING AN INVITATION / CONCESSION.


Hold on a minute, Manu... I know the word PREGO!!!

You are quite right! PREGO is also the expression we use the respond to someone saying GRAZIE (thank you) to us!

Same word, different translation in English and different scenarios.

It happens a lot across languages so the best thing we can do is to take notice and to start using the “tricky” expression, rather than to fight it to understand how that is even possible!


Click on the button below to download the Lesson Notes for this lesson. You will find more examples and some exercises for you to practice! 

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