How to Say Please in Arabic (and Other Polite Requests)
Not to sound too Forest Gump-ish, but my momma always said you can get more bees with honey than you can with vinegar. Of course she meant that people are more likely to help you if you are sweet and polite rather than bitter and rude. This brings us to the topic of this post: making polite requests in Arabic.
Just as English has some basic words to make polite requests (think “may”, “could”, “would”, and “please”), Arabic also has words that are used in the same way when making polite requests. One of the most common phrases for requests in Arabic is لَوْ سَمَحْتَ (law samaht) meaning “if you allow” or “if you please” and is usually followed by an imperative. For example:
نَاوِلْنِي الطَّبَقَ لَوْ سَمَحْتَ – naawilnee ‘attabaq law samaht – “Please, hand me the dish!”
Another one of the common Arabic phrases that you’ll hear quite often throughout the Arabic world is مِنْ فَضْلِكَ (min fadhlika). This phrase literally means “of/from your favor”, but is most often used as either “please” or “excuse me”, as in the following example:
أَعْطِنِي الكِتاب مِنْ فَضْلِكَ – atinee alkitaab min fadhlika – “Give me the book please.”
Perhaps the most polite way of asking for a favor when learning to speak Arabic is by using هَلْ مِنَ المُمْكِنِ أَنْ …؟ (hal min almumkin ann)
meaning “Is it possible …?
For example, let’s say that you have a meeting with your boss who wants to talk to you about a personal matter. In this case, he or she would say:
هَلْ مِنَ الْمُمْكِنِ أَنْ تَغْلِق الْباب؟ – hal min almumkin ann tughliq albaab – “Is it possible for you to shut the door?”
Still another way to ask is for something is by using رَجَاءً (rajaa’an) literally meaning “I beg…”; however this is usually used in extreme cases when only very urgent help is needed. For example, a motorist stuck in a remote part of the desert might implore another passing motorist to !رَجَاْءً سَاْعِدْنِيْ (rajaa’an saa’idnee) meaning “Please help me!”.
Of course, there are other ways of politely asking for things. For example, you will hear many beggars in the streets heaping a multitude of blessings from Allah upon you asking you for change, which you must admit, is a bit more polite than asking for change straight out.
Being polite in any language is important in any language and especially in Arabic. It can mean the difference between getting what you want or walking away without what you want. This applies to business and pleasure and when you meet Arabs for the first time, they will often heap praises on you in an effort to be as polite as possible to their guests. In the end, being polite is just good manners.
Thank you for reading this post on how to make polite requests in Arabic. If you would like to know more about the Arabic culture and the Arabic language, please visit us at kaleela.com for more on being polite and other great tips for learning all about the Arab people and the Arabic language. We also would like you to invite you to download the Kaleela Arabic language learning app – a convenient way for you to learn Arabic anytime, anyplace that is convenient for you.