Is it correct to say "Please confirm me" or "Please reply me as soon as possible" in a context where I am asking for a confirmation or reply (like in an email)?

I am a native American English speaker and spent 6+ months in Southeast Asia where I met some people that had learned English as a second language (in Australia, I think) and I heard those expressions multiple times! I would say something like "Please confirm with me" or "Please reply as soon as possible" but I have also heard those expressions in various email communication throughout my past job where we worked with offshore employees in India.

It sounds so incorrect to me but there must be SOME logic to them since they're not isolated incidents that I've heard them in.

  • 1
    Don't forget "Please explain me." It's a pretty common mistake for learners to make. I don't have time to write a proper answer, but Can I rephrase the sentence “Can you explain this word to me?” into “Can you explain me this word.” and learning about verb transitivity may be helpful.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 22:38
  • I expect, since it's perfectly correct to say Please teach me English, many students assume that any verb can similarly take an indirect object without preposition, instead of just certain verbs. If they speak English frequently with other, non-native speakers, it's inevitable that they will want to make up less complicated shortcuts, even if they suspect it's wrong.
    – Andrew
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 23:33

2 Answers 2


Constructions such as

Please confirm me
Please reply me
Please explain me

sound wrong because they are using an incorrect direct object. In the case of 'reply', the construction is using a direct object with an intransitive verb. In the cases of 'confirm' and 'explain', the word serving as the direct object should actually be the indirect object, while the actual direct object is implied. You can confirm something or explain something to or for someone, but you generally1 do not actually confirm or explain a person directly.

These sound odd to native English speakers because we usually understand these relationships even when we cannot name them. Such mistakes are quite common because different languages use different constructions for some verbs. For example, in French one would say, "Il attend le chat," meaning, "He waits for the cat." However, there is no preposition used in French, such that a native French speaker might mistakenly say in English, "He waits the cat." Even within a language, very similar verbs can differ in their rules. For example, "He awaits the cat," is perfectly correct.

  1. One can say, "You confirmed someone to a nominated position," but this is really saying that the person's position is being confirmed. One can say, "Please explain your odd friend," but the friend is actually being discussed in this case, rather than being given an explanation.

reply is intransitive: it cannot take a direct object.

confirm and explain can be intransitive or transitive: when they are transitive, the direct object is the thing that is confirmed or explained:

I confirmed my flights yesterday.
He explained his unusual behaviour later.

For all of these words, if you want to specify who you are replying to, you have to add a to prepositional phrase (also known as an indirect object).

He explained his unusual behaviour to me.

If you say "please explain me", me is the thing that is explained: it is grammatically correct, but probably not what you mean.

Note that it is quite correct to say "please explain yourself", as this is a way of saying "please explain your behaviour". yourself really is the direct object of explain.

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