Please and thank you (and sorry), part V: please

We wrap up this series on everyday pleasantries (until I think of one I forgot) with the word “please.”

The most common and easiest way to say “please” is an Arabic import, لُطفا (luṭfan, “loht-fan”); from an Arabic root that means “to be kind,” it means “kindly,” as in لُطفا پَنجِره را باز کُنید (luṭfan panjirah rā bāz kunīd), “please (kindly) open the window.” Use it when you’re making a request.

Naturally there are other ways to say “please” for other contexts. We’ve already seen that خواهِش می کُنَم (khwāhish mī kunam) is one way to respond to “thank you,” but it can also be used in making requests; in fact, the phrase actually means “I request.” Use this for heftier requests, or you could use the polite (i.e., second person plural) form of the verb “to be able,” which is تَوانِستَن (tavānistan). The second person plural/polite form, in present tense, is می تَوانید (mī tavānīd). Since you’re using the polite form it’s almost as though the “please” is built into the request, like آیا می توانید انگلیسی صحبت کنید؟ (āyā mī tavānīd inglīsī ṣuḥbat kunīd), “could you please speak English?”

Finally, for when you’re not making a request so much as making an offer and encouraging the other person to accept (like, “please go ahead of me,” or “please take [whatever],” consider the verb فَرمودَن (farmūdan), which means “to command” but also “to favor,” or “to deign,” or “to be pleased.” The imperative, بِفَرمائید (bifarmāʾīd) thus means something like “be pleased” or “deign (to do something).”


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