I know that “S'il vous plait” means please. But what's the actual structure of it. Is it a reflexive verb or something else ?


Plaire = to please

Vous plaire = to please you

Il vous plaît = it pleases you / you like

S'il vous plaît = if it pleases you / if you like

S'il vous plaît de faire ainsi = if it pleases you to do so

That's the grammatical construction; the idiomatic meaning is not "if it pleases you," but "please".

  • Regardless of its etymology as debated here, the non-ironic sense of the English phrase if you please is another way to translate/analyze “S'il vous plait” that goes beyond a simple “please” but falls a bit short of the literal, less idiomatic “if it pleases you.” – Papa Poule Jul 30 '16 at 13:27
  • If you say it slowly and emphatically, in a sarcastic/joking way, can you force it to be interpreted as "If it pleases you" ? – temporary_user_name Jul 30 '16 at 17:19

S'il vous plaît means: if it [what is going to be said by the speaker] pleases you, literally. On its own, it means /please/ in English. As in please and thank you.

Beyond that, there are two impersonal situations: S'il vous plaît de dire: If you like saying that etc.

S'il leur plaît de nager les dimananche, etc. If they like swimming on Sundays

or less frequent: S'il vous plaît qu'elle aille de bonne heure. Usually expressed as: Si cela vous plaît qu'elle aille de bonne heure. If you would like her to go earlier.

In English, the S'il vous plaît QUE would be translated with a would. Rule: S'il + indirect object pronoun + plaire (plait ou plaisait etc.)

The non-impersonal situation is the straight reflexive form of the verb:

Examples: Cela me plaît

La neige ne leur plaît pas

Le filme ne leur a pas plu

Les comédies leur plaisaient bien à l'époque

All those are literally passive constructions. The snow was not pleasing to them. Idiomatically: They don't like the snow.

The rule here to say that you don't like something with the reflexive is form: Noun + indirect object pronoun + the verb plaire.

  • 1
    @On a eu Corrigé – Lambie Jul 30 '16 at 12:23

"S’il vous plaît que …" : "If you like that …"

It is used alone for "please" but it doesn't have any other meanig without a subordonate.

  • 2
    S'il vous plait que? If you like that?? That's not exactly very usual....Si cela vous plait de [dire ou autre verbe]. It you like saying that...it's much more usual.... – Lambie Jul 29 '16 at 23:32
  • Only if the verb is an infinitive. You need to use "que" if it's a subjonctive : "Si cela vous plaît que nous passions notre temps à débattre" "Si ça te plaît que je fasse ça." If you use an infinitive the subject of both verbs is the same : "Si ça te plaît de faire ça" = "Si ça te plaît que tu fasses ça" (which sounds odd). So it is very common to use it to specify another subject for the second proposition : "ça vous plaît que je parte" vs "ça vous plaît qu’ils partent" vs "ça vous plaît que nous partions", etc… – Stéphane Jul 30 '16 at 16:48
  • Of course, one would use subjunctive in some cases, but there's a lot to learn before that.... – Lambie Jul 30 '16 at 17:51
  • What about "if you please" ? – Jylo Jul 30 '16 at 20:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.