Guest   Thu May 24, 2007 5:32 pm GMT
1. Pray, take a seat
2. Pray, continue
3. Pray, carry on

I dont understand the meaning of "pray" in such sentences. I have listened to a couple of audio books of sherlock holmes tales and nowadays I am watching a televesion series in which Jeremy Brett and David Burke had potrayed as sherlock holmes and Dr.Watson. I hear such sentences again, they are pretty common in the series.

Would I sound odd if I used such a construction in my daily life?

furrykef   Thu May 24, 2007 6:01 pm GMT
It means "please", more or less.

It's certainly an outdated construction in American English, and it would likely be understood, but it would sound very unusual. It might be different in Britain, but I think it's still a rather formal construct there... it would be a good idea to wait for a native British speaker to give an opinion on that.

- Kef
Lazar   Thu May 24, 2007 6:02 pm GMT
Haha, I've watched many episodes of that show, and I too noticed Holmes' use of "pray". says that this use of pray is an ellipsis meaning "I pray you", in the sense of beseeching or entreating.

<<Would I sound odd if I used such a construction in my daily life?>>

Yes, I think people would tend to perceive this construction as archaic. But I think there are some situations (perhaps semi-facetious) in which you could pull it off.
Jim   Thu May 24, 2007 6:05 pm GMT
... e.g. in the phrase "pray tell".
Buddhaheart   Thu May 24, 2007 6:28 pm GMT
1. Pray, take a seat = I earnestly request you to take a seat = I pray you to take a seat = Please take a seat

2. Pray, continue = I beg you to continue = I pray you to continue = Please continue

3. Pray, carry on = I beg you to carry on = I pray you to carry on = Please carry on
K. T.   Thu May 24, 2007 10:55 pm GMT
Yes, I still hear "pray, tell me" occasionally.
furrykef   Fri May 25, 2007 5:02 am GMT
By the way, whenever look at the forum and see this thread, I think of this quote:

"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." -- Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage was a 19th-century inventor who ended up playing a significant part in the history of the development of the computer, although computers weren't actually built until well after his death.

- Kef
Give me a cup of tea, poo   Fri May 25, 2007 6:27 am GMT
Je vous en pray.