Use of the word “Kindly”

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Please forgive me giving you some constructive feedback on the use of the world kindly.This word is often used out of context by non native English speakers, who are trying to be well meaning, but actually are asking somebody to do a task or errand (kindly do this, kindly do that).

I think you would use the word kindly if you were being kind or nice. e.g The lady smiled kindly at her pet dog. Another context where it is used is if there is something pleasant e.g the sun shone kindly.

This word is almost never spoken in this context by native English speakers when asking somebody to do a task. If you think about it there isn’t anything kind about it really. You are asking for money.

Probably a better way is just to be direct “ We will ask you for a monthly or yearly subscription”.

I hope you forgive my presumptuousness in raising this. Your English is 1000 times better than my German. Thank you and your team for DEVONthink.

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Thanks for your thoughts and the kind words to our team.

However, as a native born and bred English speaker (American English), I disagree with your assessment. Not only is it considered a polite turn of phrase, “Would you kindly pass me the salt?”, it is in concert with our business principles, how we run these fora, and our general outlook and philosophy on how we comport ourselves in life.

Also, we believe it is kind when people spend their money to invest in our applications. This not only finances future development, it also supports us as individuals, including our families… a kindness we all appreciate, for sure. So we are indeed “being kind or nice” in what we’re asking. :slight_smile:


it is quite common among us native speakers of Southern American English dialect. :wink:


He’s right, though, Jim, at least to British English ears.

“Would you kindly do this…” has the connotation of slight exasperation. It goes with the tone you use to your teenage kids when asking them for the fourth time to tidy their bedroom.

If you said to me “Would you kindly pass the salt”, I would presume that you’d already asked a couple of times and I ignored you, or that we’d just had an argument and you were trying to move the conversation on in a long-suffering passive-aggressive and highly exasperated fashion - pissed off but managing to stay polite, just. Barely.

Kindly stop doing that…

And the word “sorry” frequently said by British speakers rings with resonance to American listeners attempting to use the same language. Isn’t global diversity interesting? :wink:

“Two nations divided by a common language…”

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This is where the failures in non-verbal communication come into play.
Your example is not uncommon in American English but it’s impossible to ascertain intent without a face or voice to piece any this together.

Short of having @eboehnisch add a small video clip of him asking for (continued) support, likely dressed in rags with a small tin cup in his hand :stuck_out_tongue: , we hope people would lean toward a happy and friendly reading of our messages, not a negative one. This is especially true of people who know us already :slight_smile:


Of course… but even so, the tone in writing now comes across as more officious than polite. (“Patrons will kindly refrain from spitting on the floor…”).

Not that it bothers me in the slightest — I just enjoy quirks of language — but here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary (the big one…) has to say about it under meaning 5 (my emph.)

  1. Used as a courteous qualification to a polite request: ‘so as to be kind’; ‘please’.
    Now usually ironic, prefacing a demand rather than a request, and often expressing annoyance or irritation on the part of the speaker.
    1605 S. Rowley When you see Me sig. Biv Commend me to your king, and kindly tell him, The English Cardinall will remaine his friend.
    1753 H. Jones Earl of Essex i. 134 Oh! Cecil, will you kindly lend Some pity to a wretch like me?
    1856 M. C. Jackson Story of my Wardship I. v. 73 As I am a stranger here Mr. Compton, will you kindly…give…a name…to some of the faces…present?
    1882 T. Hardy Two on Tower I. xii. 201 Would he kindly leave the door unfastened to-morrow, she had asked.
    1937 R. K. Narayan Bachelor of Arts ix. 133 Will you kindly make your meaning clearer?
    1984 E. Sykes Great Crime of Grapplewick (1985) xv. 118 The referee…blew his whistle right into his face. ‘Kindly leave the field,’ he said.
    2014 C. Tóibín Nora Webster vii. 115 Miss Kavanagh, when I am working, you will kindly…keep your voice down.

kindly, adv. : Oxford English Dictionary

That sounds like what we were doing: a courteous qualification to a polite request
Both courteous and polite

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