Please be advised

From The Jolly Contrarian
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Towards more picturesque speech


George Orwell on plain English | SEC guidance on plain English Plain English Anatomy Noun | Verb | Adjective | Adverb | Preposition | Conjunction | Latin | Germany | Flannel | Legal triplicate | Nominalisation | Murder your darlings

Index: Click to expand:

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Requests? Insults? We’d love to 📧 hear from you.
Sign up for our newsletter.

A phrase that presents a Cartesian problem in any language: if your audience has the intellectual capacity to read and comprehend your prose, Q.E.D. by doing so it must be being advised, becoming aware, or taking note of what you have to say. If it is not reading your prose, then asking it to do so when, transparently, it isn’t, won’t make a damn of difference.

“I told you to pay attention.”

“Perhaps; but when you told me to pay attention — if indeed that is what you did — I wasn’t, well, paying attention.”

So, you needn’t say please be advised, please be aware, or please note, or “PARENTAL ADVISORY”. This we can sum up in the famous Latin maxim: animadverto ergo scio:[1] “I am paying attention, therefore I am aware”.

Please be advised also fails quite badly if any part of your objective is to nudge, to gently persuade, or at any rate to provoke in your audience a sentiment other than outright resentment. This really ought to be your goal should your correspondent be your client — at least as long as you are not in the process of actively closing your client out, or formally notifying it that you have, that very morning, sought injunctive relief against it to recover several million pounds of unpaid derivative losses.

Look, we know clients are a pain in the arse. Everyone knows that life would be so much easier if you didn’t have to deal with them. But client relationship management is, or ought to be, the pantomime of affecting some positive camaraderie, however hard it may be to live with yourself as a consequence. This is your Faustian pact. No-one, not even a pain in the arse, likes being hectored. No-one likes being addressed like a wanton child.

There are ways of dressing a communication up to a wanton child — a fee-paying, revenue-generating wanton child — so she feels like a valued member of the community. So, instead of shouting “Dear Client: please be advised that...” why not try:

“Hi Jeff,
Hope all is well. I am just writing to let you know that —”

See also


  1. It’s not actually a famous Latin phrase. I made it up, with my secret Latin advisor’s help.