A phrase I’ve seen rising to prominence in the past few years is “please and thank you.” Not the old lesson of “say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,'” but rather as one all-encompassing add-on when someone makes a request. “Pass me the sugar, please and thank you,” for example. This simple and rather innocuous phrase absolutely sets my teeth on edge. Maybe I’m old-fashioned or stuffy, but this is my blog and I get to rant about what I want.

Adding a “please” before or after a request is a polite, societal norm. Less formal than “could you please” or “if it please you,” it’s short-hand for appreciation and for imposing on someone else. If the request is granted, it is also polite to say “thank you.” I don’t think anyone would dispute these points, and I genuinely wished more people would utilize them more frequently.

When the two complimentary halves are combined though, to me the phrase loses the best intentions of both parts. It’s no longer a “could you please do X” with a follow-up “thank you,” and instead reads to me as “please do X, and I’m assuming you will, so thanks in advance.” To me there’s something just wholly off-putting, and a little presumptive, about phrasing things that way.

Maybe I dislike the assumption that one’s request will be granted. I imagine it’s not often when one asks for more sugar and gets denied, but there shouldn’t be an automatic belief that “if I ask for it I will get it.” Giving thanks before the request is fulfilled seems incredibly informal and a little haughty. I can understand using “thanks in advance” to close out an email, but when face-to-face with someone, to me it just smacks of hubris.

Realistically I suppose I’m happy people are saying “please” and “thank you” at all, particularly when making requests, and maybe this is just me being stodgy and set in my ways, but it seems that each of us deserve at least a little consideration and respect from one another, something saying “please and thank you” feels to have none of.