Manager to player

  1. Kindly practice every day

  2. Please practice every day

Teacher to student

  1. Kindly wipe the blackboard

  2. Please wipe the blackboard

Student to teacher

  1. Kindly give me a blank paper

  2. Please give me a blank paper

Sister to brother

  1. Kindly pass the butter

  2. Please pass the butter

Which is correct usage in the above contexts?


This is a matter of tone or "register".

"Kindly" is seen in America as being old-fashioned and overly formal. Not incorrect, but rare and getting rarer.

See, for example, this ngram result for "kindly reply" vs. "please reply".

The last time the former was as common as the latter was about 1910. As of 2000, "please reply" was about 25x as common.

I can't speak for BrE usage.


In British English "Please ..." would be appropriate in all cases. In many dialects "Kindly" would only be used sarcastically, ironically, or to convey annoyance.

Suggesting "I've asked you nicely already, now I'm asking excessively nicely to hammer home the point." This is a great example the most British way of expressing anger by being even more polite than normal.

Used when asking someone to do something, especially when you are annoyed with them but still want to be polite:

The Cambridge Dictionary

  • 1
    Indians say "kindly" and to me a native Brit, it seems like they are passively-aggressively suggesting I be kinder than I usually am when doing what they request. – Sridhar Sarnobat Jun 22 '20 at 23:35

In Australian English, kindly implies a polite instruction (which is expected to be obeyed) rather than a polite request (which may be ignored or rejected). Accordingly, kindly is usually used by someone in a position of authority. The formality also implies that the person may be irritated.

If a coach or manager says to a football player: 'Kindly practise every day,' he means that he expects the player to do so (and implies perhaps that the player has not done so in the past). 'Please practise every day' means that he wishes the player to do so.

Teacher to student: Either is correct but kindly implies exasperation or irritation.

Student to teacher: The use of kindly could be considered rude as it places student over teacher.

Between siblings: Please would be used in an Australian cultural context.

Because of its formality, (this dictionary lists it as old-fashioned); it would rarely be used among peers.

I expect British English would be similar but I cannot be certain.

  • 1
    This sounds similar to American English. And the Collins dictionary definition 8 equates the two words, with kindly sometimes showing impatience or formality. – user6951 Feb 27 '15 at 6:45

For me 'kindly' conveys exasperation (how many times do I have to tell you!? For god's sake kindly do it!) - personally I avoid it with barge poles. Yet it seems several ESL students are insisting their teachers promote it in places where please serves perfectly well. Kill it off! It is a little creepy in my opinion. (I am an Aussie online teacher)


To, if somebody asks me 'to something kindly' I find this rather strange because on top of asking me to do something the person even asks me to do it kindly which implies that the person thinks I normally do things 'not kindly'.

  • Hi, and welcome to ELL. Please take the tour and consider how you might improve your answer. As it stands, this sounds like opinion, not general use. After five years, with several upvoted answers, we would like to see new information, backed up with references and examples, please. – Davo Oct 23 '20 at 12:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.