beg / plead

Both of these words mean to ask strongly, with a lot of deep emotion:

  • When John’s wife wanted to leave him, he begged her to stay.
  • When John’s wife wanted to leave him, he pleaded with her to stay.
  • The student begged for more time to complete the assignment, and the teacher gave her two more days.
  • The student pleaded for more time to complete the assignment, and the teacher gave her two more days.

    The word beg (but not plead) is also used when poor people ask for money on the street: they are begging, and someone who does this frequently is a beggar.

    The word plead (but not beg) is used in the judicial system, when someone who is accused of a crime pleads innocent or pleads guilty (officially states that they are innocent or guilty).

    We have two idioms with beg:

  • “I beg to differ” is a polite way of saying you disagree with something another person has just said. You have a different opinion.
  • “I beg your pardon” is a rather formal way of interrupting someone or bringing something to a person’s attention. For example, “I beg your pardon -you look familiar, have we met before?”

    However, in everyday spoken English it’s more common to use “Excuse me” instead of “I beg your pardon.”