Say Please in Italian – Know When and How!

When you say Please in Italian, properly, it will open doors and make your experience here go more smoothly. If you’ve been studying how to speak Italian, or if you’re just getting started, it’s easy to zoom past this one and pat yourself on the back for getting it right.

“Please” can be a tiny bit complicated…

It’s not always just “per favore” or “per piacere” tacked onto a request. So, I believe it’s a good idea to delve into this topic more deeply. And, who better to explain the subtleties of this than Manu, of I admit, until I watched the video below, I realized I was making mistakes that were as good as placing a flashing red light on my forehead that shouted “unenlightened foreigner”. I’m loathe to get things wrongs, especially when it comes to following Italian good manners. The biggie for me was the proper reply when someone asked me if I wanted something in particular. I’d been saying “Yes, please” (sì, per favore) instead of “Yes, thank you” (sì, grazie). While the former isn’t technically wrong, people here just don’t say that. They respond with the latter.

“Prego” can be another place where people get tripped up.

This use of please (technically it means “I pray” – I just love that!) is used when a person responds to another person thanking them, or when you are standing aside and indicating for another person to go first. Some people mistakenly respond “Prego” when a person asks if they want something in particular.

Don’t rush past the fundamentals!

Let Manu guide you. As I’ve said, in many previous posts, Italy Made Easy is my favorite go-to source for learning Italian. In fact, I’ve started the Zero to Italian course he offers, and I’m duly impressed. Manu has TONS of free online tutorials, on his YouTube channel and on his website. Kick the tires with this video on how to say Please in Italian. I think you’ll be glad you did.

By |2019-01-27T08:47:18+01:00April 25th, 2017|Speaking Italian|8 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Gloria April 25, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Ok , I get it. Grazie. But it’s the photo I want to comment on. Great shot. ” Waiter in motion” would be a good caption. And that bella light and shadow….. I love photos that draw you in and beg you to conjure up a story. Nice work Jed. Good eye!

    • Jed April 25, 2017 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gloria! I’m glad you like the photo. I was trying to find an appropriate photo that speaks to a place where the topic of saying “please” would be appropriate!

  2. Bill April 25, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Many good points Jed!

  3. Neil April 25, 2017 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Another great tip Jed. Thanks. I also made mistakes with this even after living in Italy for over a year now. I would like to add another simple time that “grazie” is better than “per favore”. In a coffee bar ordering at the counter it is good to be polite but to the point. I just learned that saying something like “un caffè grazie” is more used and sounds more correct than “per favore” as it is polite but short. And yes, Manu is awesome. I too am in Zero to Italian and loving the program. Thanks again.

    • Jed April 25, 2017 at 11:44 am - Reply

      Great callout about ordering at a bar, Neil! Yes, Manu is awesome – just doing my daily lessons now!

    • JR April 25, 2017 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Yes — as I understand it, ordering with “grazie” is appropriate after someone has asked what you would like to have. It is correct in response to an offer. But any request that is not preceded by an offer would be followed by “per favore.”
      A more seasoned speaker may be able to confirm or refute this!

      • Jed April 25, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

        Fortunately, I ran this by my spouse (a native Italian, Milanese) and was told that it is most polite, when making the request (vs. being offered something) to follow the request with “per favore” or “per piacere”. Saying “grazie” with the initial request isn’t wrong, I was told – just the former is considered more polite.
        It bears pointing out, since Italy’s regions vary considerably with certain conventions, perhaps some areas practice this differently!

  4. Kate April 25, 2017 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Great little details! Grazie 🙂

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