"Merci" meaning "please" or "veuillez"

French Language Asked by AtilioA on October 24, 2021

So far I’ve only come across with the "thank you" meaning of merci. Recently, I saw this phrase:

Merci de vous enregistrer au moins une heure avant de partir.

Which translates to

Please register at least one hour before leaving.

The original has roughly the same meaning as "Veuillez vous enregistrer au moins une heure avant de partir.".
When can and I use "Merci" that way?

3 Answers

Merci de expresses a recommendation [c.f. A.2.a)] whereas veuillez implies an injunction.

Both sentences formulate a request: recommendation/injunction.

Answered by user19460 on October 24, 2021

Using this would be polite formula is not recommended in the context you present; it is barely acceptable as an introduction of routine requests in application forms and the like. It is otherwise considered as manipulative and inelegant, not polite: you extend thanks to someone before you've even had a reaction to what you just asked (non au merci de…).

Here are more recommendations not to use this formula.

Answered by LPH on October 24, 2021

The word please can be written in more than one way in French, which all have small differences in meaning. It's why you see the word « Merci » used that way.

All the forms in the sentence example you gave:

  • Merci de...
  • Prière de...
  • Je vous prie de...
  • Veuillez...

The vouvoiement makes the sentence that way, it's extra-polite. It's a concept that doesn't exist in English I think.

So as I said, in the sentence you could swap the word « Merci » with « Prière ».


Prière de vous enregistrer au moins une heure avant de partir.

The sentence means the same thing, but the word « Merci » is softer in tone, where in the example I gave it's a more direct way to say it.

Answered by yagmoth555 on October 24, 2021

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