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When altering the following from direct to reported

  • "Don't smoke in my house, please" our neighbor asked.

If I wanted to keep the word "please" as part of the sentence in order to convey that the speaker asked nicely.

  • Our neighbor asked not to smoke in his house
    Our neighbor asked to please not smoke in his house

How can I do it and why?

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    It depends on the requirements of your reporting. If you are quoting someone, being perfectly accurate is usually preferred to an edited version. By including the "please" you give the reader a more complete picture. Conversely, if you were trying to summarize a situation briefly, you might cut it down to only the content most relevant to the person you are reporting to. – user11628 Feb 17 '16 at 18:33
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    Our neighbor politely asked us... Idiomatically, if you're not actually going to reproduce the exact words as spoken (in quote marks), there's often an implication of "desperate pleading" if you include the word please in a roundabout "summary" of what was requested. I assume that's because syntactically, please doesn't really work in the "non-exact" versions. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 17 '16 at 18:47
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    i really struggle with some of the material in our textbooks. they use things no one will ever say in real life just for the sake of conveying the exercise. it leads to some frustration and trust issue as to whether they actually use the tenses properly – J.Bakk Feb 18 '16 at 10:11
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I think you need the word 'that' to make the sentence completely grammatical, but I can't quote you the reasons why.

I'd put it like this:

"Our neighbour asked that visitors please not smoke in his house."

So you need both an explicit object (he, she, it, we, they, visitors) and the inclusion of the word 'that'. Better grammarians than me will be able to explain why 'that' is required!

Another way is to use an infinitive:

Our neighbour asked visitors please not to smoke in the house.

Edit: As noted by @human, it is also acceptable - and perhaps more natural - to say

Our neighbour asked visitors to please not smoke in the house.

on the basis that split infinitives are not a error anybody needs to take seriously.

  • A +vote with a note: The to in the second, infinitive, example seems out of place. It might be better as "Our neighbour asked visitors to please not smoke in the house." From a non-expert in grammar – lauir Feb 19 '16 at 8:57
  • Yes, it might sound more natural, however it is a split infinitive. I'm not really someone who cares much about split infinitives, but I thought it better to avoid encouraging what some might perceive as an error. – fred2 Feb 19 '16 at 15:59
  • If you'd like to mention the "to please not" variation, you could divert criticsm by citing "EL&U: Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect ..." – lauir Feb 20 '16 at 0:15

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