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Thread: Syntax in the workplace

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    Default Syntax in the workplace

    I'm by no means the syntax or grammar police. But there is one things that really bothers me about my co workers syntax.

    They will say things like "Can you please send me a copy of the file?" When I read that it comes across as sounding rude.

    I try to be polite and word it in a tone that doesn't sound rude. " Could you send me a copy of the file, please?" or " May I get a copy of the file, please?"
    Those sound much more pleasant to me.

    Does starting a question with Can you please...sound rude? Is it bad syntax?







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    Senior Member Deb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syntax in the workplace

    I take your point. It does make a big difference.
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    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syntax in the workplace

    I totally agree.

    Without intonation, it sounds to me like:

    "Can you PLEASE send a copy of the FILE (ALREADY)?!"

    And I picture someone huffing, arms crossed and foot tapping impatiently.

    Starting with could or would sounds better and moving the please later, but having "you" appear sounds more like an order than a request.

    Wording it as "could I have a copy of the file, please?" allows room for the recipient to send a copy of their own volition.

    Also, I think it is worth asking for help, sometimes, as most folks like to help each other, right? "I was hoping you could help me out. I need a copy of the file. Would it be possible to send me a copy?" or some such.

    And the less I know the person and the less they are expecting the request the more care I take in wording.

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    countrydirt (September 8th, 2019)

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    Senior Member Voiren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syntax in the workplace

    Honestly, anything that doesn't come in as "Can you just..." is welcome!

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    Default Re: Syntax in the workplace

    As Azkid has suggested, a lot is to do with intonation, but this is probably one of those situations where the word please is not neccessary at all and, as in this case, open to misinterpretation.

    I think you are lucky to have the word please in the sentence, people dont always think about what they say and how they say it, especially if they are feeling cranky about not having the file that they want.

    People in my office are more likely to say, "Where's my copy of the (bleeping) file?"

    But they are rough boys and if I was to suggest that they include the word Please in their sentence then the response would not be repeatable but may have reference to the work of a proctologist.
    Last edited by Fermata; September 9th, 2019 at 05:06 AM.

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    Default Re: Syntax in the workplace

    I suggest that it is situational and dictated by demographics.

    In one of my previous work environments, an all male office, 'please' was not in our vocabulary -- ever. In another, higher up in the same organization, things, manners and speech were more genteel. Going even higher by promotion, and speech became very refined, very correct, very polite, even 'Oxford Don' like, and completely devoid of colloquialisms.

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    Default Re: Syntax in the workplace


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    Senior Member Scrawler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syntax in the workplace

    The correct answer is "yes".

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