“Can you PLEASE cover my shift on Saturday?”

You have a part-time job at a restaurant. You want to go to the beach with your friends on Saturday, but you're supposed to work on Saturday. You have to ask a coworker who's off on Saturday to switch with you. You ask this.

Can you PLEASE cover my shift on Saturday?

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Can you PLEASE (do something)

"Can you please ___?" can be a friendly, casual way of asking someone to do something that they don't want to do. When you pronounce this phrase in a friendly way, you put strong stress on the word "please", and extend the length of the word:

Can you pleeeease help me with this?

If you don't stress the word "please" in the right way, this question can sound angry or annoyed. For example, if you stress the word "stop", this sentence sounds angry:

Can you please stop?

It will also sound angry if you stress "please" but don't stretch out the length:

Can you please shut up?

a shift

A "shift" is the period of time that an employee has to work. Jobs that have "shifts" are usually paid by the hour. One shift is usually between 4 to 16 hours, and can sometimes have a name like:

  • the late shift
  • the morning shift
  • the graveyard shift (a creative name for a shift that starts late at night and goes until early morning)

The verb "work" is sometimes used to talk about a shift. In a job with a shift system, you might hear an employee say:

"I'm working the afternoon shift tomorrow."

cover (someone's) shift

When you "cover (someone's) shift", it means that you work that shift instead of them.

I'm covering Penny's shift tonight, so I won't be home until late.

This is similar to covering for someone while they're out, but you usually "cover for (someone)" in an office job where people each have certain responsibilities. You "cover a shift" in a restaurant, retail, or other job that just needs people to work for certain hours.