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How do you say when you’re holding the door for someone for example and you’re trying to say the equivalent of “I insist!” when they hesitate to go ahead? Can you just say “S’il vous plait!”?

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    S'il vous plait s'entendra très bien. Moi et mes potes, on dit plutôt : Je vous en prie – aCOSwt Sep 4 '18 at 21:42
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Informally, you can simply say:

Allez-y

Vas-y (if you are on a "tu" basis with this person)

More politely:

Je vous en prie / je t'en prie

More formal, if the person wants you to go first and you want to insist:

Je n'en ferai rien

(Note: I have some doubts about using s'il vous plait in such a situation. I come from a region (Belgium) where we use it a lot more than in standard French, and yet I would personally find it a bit awkward in that particular situation. Some may disagree.)

  • I agree, I barely ever used or heard it used for that circumstance in Belgium... – Laurent S. Sep 5 '18 at 8:15
  • @LaurentS. It is a case where s'il vous plait might be used in France (as a shortcut for allez-y, s'il vous plait) but not in Belgium, where s'il vous plait might often be used as a reply to merci (puzzling for French people), or a request to repeat something that wasn't properly heard/understood (in France pardon). – jlliagre Sep 5 '18 at 10:27
  • @jiliagre: note that the use of s'il vous plait as reply to merci is rather limited to the Brussels area (my bet is that it is a calque of this usage in Dutch) and to Flemish speakers having French as their 2nd language. S'il vous plait is used a lot (and I guess everywhere in Belgium) as voici when handing over an object, but I guess it may be less striking to French ears. It is so common that even when speaking English, Belgians may tend to say "please" for "here you are" (my English teacher in school then used to reply "what am I supposed to please you with ?"). – Greg Sep 5 '18 at 10:46
  • Yes, s'il vous plait as a invitation to take something won't have the same surprise effect. Dutch influence is clear when comparing with Alstublief (als het u belieft).-- jlljaeghere – jlliagre Sep 5 '18 at 11:51
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You could simply go with

Je vous en prie / Je t'en prie

Which is quite formal and unisex. Keep the second one for people you say "tu" (=tutoyer) but still want to keep some kind of formality. I could use it with my boss for example, which I call by his firstname and say "tu", but still keep some kind of distance/respect :-)

Other formulas :

Après vous/toi ! (neutral, meaning "Je passerai après vous")

Honneur aux dames ! (To use only with women, or with male friends if you wanna tease them a bit :-)

Honneur aux anciens ! (To use with elders, with caution. I use it almost exclusively to tease people a bit, like a joke on how old they are. Most people you don't know that well could be offended though as you're basically implying they're old.

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