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.” There are two roots you should know here.

The first root is فضل (F-Ḍ-L, faḍala), which means “to excel” or “to be in excess” or “to be excellent,” but also has the sense of preferring one thing over another (the form II verb, فضّل or faḍala, means “to prefer”). When you take the verbal noun, فَضل (faḍl), which means “surplus,” “abundance,” or “favor,” you can construct the prepositional phrase مِن فَضلِكَ (min faḍlika), which uses the preposition مِن (“from,” but also some meanings of “by”) and the possessive pronoun كَ (for the masculine singular; use كِ for the feminine singular and كُم for the plural/formal), and which means “please” or, if you want to be precise, something like “by your grace.” Use this when you’re making a polite request. Spoken colloquial Arabic has a slightly different way to mark gender, so you’ll say “min fadlak” to a man and “min fadlik” to a woman.

From فضل or, specifically, its form V derivation تَفَضَّلَ (tafaḍḍala), which means “to be so kind” or “to deign,” we also use the imperative form of the verb, تَفَضَّل (tafaḍḍal, masculine singular; use تَفَضَّلي tafaḍḍalī for feminine singular and تَفَضَّلوا tafaḍḍalū for plural/formal) to mean “please” in the sense of “help yourself.” Use this when you’re offering something to someone, or when you’re trying to be polite in situations such as holding a door open for someone or letting someone go ahead of you; it basically means “be so kind as to accept my offer.”

The second root you should know is لطف (L-Ṭ-F, laṭafa), which means “to be kind.” The verbal noun لُطف (luṭf, “kindness”) can be made into an adverb using a grammatical structure we’ve seen before. The result is لُطفاً (luṭfan), which means “kindly” and can be used in simple requests where you could use “please” and “kindly” interchangeably, for example لُطفاَ أفتَح النافِذة (luṭfan aftaḥ al-nāfidhah) means “please (kindly) open the window.”

I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention one other possibility, though it’s less likely you’ll use or encounter it than these other two options. The verb رجو or رجا (rajā), which we’ve seen in a Turkish incarnation (rica), means “to hope,” “to ask (for something),” or even “to plead,” and its verbal noun رجاء (rajāʾ) can be made into an adverb, رجاءً (rajāʾan), that means something like “pleadingly” and can be used in contexts where “please” might be used in English.


2 thoughts on “Please and thank you (and sorry), part V: please

  1. Pingback: Please and thank you (and sorry), part V: please | Persian Word a Day
  2. Pingback: Please and thank you (and sorry), part V: please | Turkish Word a Day

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