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The “Please Advise” Habit

We all have unconscious habits. I learned about one of mine when I was visiting an elderly relative and she asked me, both of us standing in the kitchen, “Don’t you ever close a drawer all the way?” I was confused–until I looked around the room and saw several drawers open about two inches. They were all drawers I had “closed.”

That was last year. I still leave drawers open a bit sometimes, but now I notice them open, and then I close them all the way.

Do you have any unconscious habits in your business writing? Last week in a business writing seminar for people in the shipping industry, I noticed an unconscious habit among attendees: “Please advise.”

Please Advise alternatives

They used “Please advise” in their opening sentences, their closing sentences, and sometimes in the middle, like this:

Please advise of shipping status.
Please advise what happened with the delivery.
If you have any questions or concerns, please advise.

This use of “please advise” is a habit. It’s like my leaving the kitchen drawers open–not a terrible, serious problem. But it does get in the way of a clear, efficient message.

One of the problems with “Please advise” is that advise is a transitive verb, that is, it must have an object. Someone must be advised. For example, I can write, “The doctor advised me about taking supplements” or “I advised him to eliminate the angry tone in his writing.”

Some usage experts accept advise in place of inform or tell. Others use advise only in situations that involve advice (as in the doctor’s advice on supplements and my advice on eliminating the angry tone). I prefer that limited use.

Here are revisions of the “Please advise” examples above:

What is the shipping status? [or]
Please inform us of the shipping status.

Please tell me [us] what happened with the delivery. [or] Please let me know what happened with the delivery.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me [us] know.

If using “Please advise” is a standard practice in your industry, then improve upon it. For example, “Please advise of shipping status” may seem perfect in your office, but it reads like an old telegram, in which each word cost money. These days, with no additional cost you can add us or me and have a clear, complete sentence: “Please advise us of the shipping status.”

It’s time to break those old, unconscious habits. Since my elderly relative “advised” me of my habit, I see those open drawers, and I close them. Look for your “Please advise” or other habitual expressions, and get rid of them.

Syntax Training

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

144 comments on “The “Please Advise” Habit”

  • Thanks for pointing this out to people!

    Using the word “advise” for “tell” is one of my pet hates – it’s just so pompous and pretentious! For me, the rule of thumb would be not to use any word or phrase that you wouldn’t use outside of an office situation. For example, can you imagine saying to your spouse “please advise me what’s for dinner tonight”?

    I find that the misused “advise” is often to be found in emails alongside a misuse of the reflexive pronoun (“please advise myself”).

    And don’t get me started on the utterly bizarre use of “revert” for “reply”…

  • Hi, Clare. Your “Please advise me what’s for dinner” is a perfect illustration of the stuffiness of “please advise.” Thanks!

    I am happy to say I have not seen “revert” for “reply”–and I hope I never do!


  • That’s funny. The reason i found this article is because today i thought about my abuse of “please advise”. I use it in more and more emails every day as I deal with providers and customers. That’s a good read, i’ll take a few extra seconds to use proper words from now on.

  • I’m new to the corporate world and I keep running into this strange phrase, “please advise”. I wondered if there might be some sort of hidden meaning to it. Its otherworldliness gives it an air of false sophistication that almost led me, against my better instincts, to start using it. I looked the phrase up on Google because I worried that I just wasn’t getting it and found this site. Thank you for this post which has given me the perspective to use my normal vocabulary, and avoid the dark path into obscurantism (and douchebagetry).

  • At my former job in IT, “please advise” became a bane of my existence. People would use it as a phony-polite way of saying “you do this for me now.” Example: “My mouse is broken. Please advise.”

    I still cringe every time I see the phrase used.

  • Pablo, thank you for your enlightening example. You have provided a great reason to avoid “Please advise.” Sorry–don’t cringe!

  • This is an awesome post. And the comments are funny. I found it through googling “please advise”. I always knew the phrase felt wrong every time I read it in emails, but now it’s good to know exactly why, grammatically. Out of curiosity, does anyone know where this phrase originated?

  • I also just googled “please advise” because someone ended an e-mail with, “Please advise….” I had no idea what she was trying to tell me because I wasn’t sure what the “…” was supposed to mean. Was I supposed to advise other people about what she had told me? I think she was just telling me to “please consider this” information I just gave you. I’m not sure if I’m offended because of the redundancy or because I will of course consider the information you just gave me. I just asked for the information. Anyway, thanks for the info and the comments are funny. Unfortunately, I will not be helping your cause of stopping “please advise” because I do not know her well enough to send her the link.

  • My team constantly uses this phrase. It started innocuously enough with my boss, but then spread like a zombie invasion throughout the rest of my team, consuming the rational, coherent parts of their brains. I have put up with seeing the phrases ‘Please advise the status of the servers’ or ‘Please advise the attached spreadsheet’ for almost a year now hoping that it would gradually fade out (like signing emails with ‘Cheers’). How can I gently break it to them that they are not making any sense? I am embarrassed for my entire team.

  • I must admit that I started using this phrase to replace “Please let me know,” which I was abusing and overusing. What’s a good alternative when you are confused about something, and need people to give you advice on how to handle it? I guess I could just say, “I could use your advice on this.” Hmm. I’ll definitely be more conscious of it going forward!

  • Hi, Elizabeth. The problem with “Please advise” is using it on its own, without a direct object. It’s fine to say “Please advise me about the software.” You can also say “Please help me with the software” and “I would appreciate your advice on the software.”

    Use whatever sounds natural. Just avoid “Please advise” alone.

  • It looks like some people don’t realize that “I googled” is as inappropriate as “Please advise” at the bottom of an email without an object as you would expect for a transitive verb.
    Google is not a verb, instead it is a noun, actually it is a company name and consequently you should not say “To google” or “I googled”.
    Hey Lynn, please advise 🙂

  • Marco, I am all for googling, and I use google as a verb. It simply makes sense to me, despite any efforts by Google to control the use of its name. Sorry!

    The only time this habit has gotten me in trouble is when I used it during a class I was teaching at Microsoft. There it is not a popular verb!


  • To say I “googled” it is just a catchy term/phrase and I doubt anyone is going to discontinue the usuage of it where it’s deemed appropriate or not. The english language can and has been subject to usage. If enough people use “please advise” as a standard then sooner or later it’s very meaning will be slightly altered to add-on the way it’s being used. Granted not every catchy phrase or term gets an addition to its definition but I’m sure it will at least fall into the “unofficial” usuage. Point is that yes, granted you don’t want to over-use any term or phrase. Mix it up a bit.

  • Everything gets shortened over email. When “Please advise” is used, it should be clear by the content of the email on what advice is needed. I believe it is a nice way of asking for needed advice without typing a lot. There are so many things we shorten with email or phrases we use which we don’t use elsewhere. How about lol? I actually hate that term, but it serves as an example. People really need to get over this being an issue. That is more pompous and pretentious then someone actually using the term. It is still your choice whether you respond with the advice or not…

  • Can I just say, I hope that “Please Advise” becomes banned from email jargon….

    It is the most overused and unnecessary phrase.

  • It just goes to show that a little education on a really overused phrase can go a long way. I had no idea I was doing something wrong until my Outlook did a green underline on my “advise” in “Please advise.” And this is how I found your post. Excellent! Thank you!

  • The, “green underline,” in Outlook is even worse! It advises to use, “advice,” instead of, “advise.”

    I see, “please advice,” in emails all the time. I would much rather see the correct, “please advise.”

    Tell is such a dull word. Advise is more than to just tell; it’s to inform, to counsel, to recommend. That’s certainly more than to just, “tell.”

  • I feel much better now, realizing that I am not alone!

    My boss actually taught me the other way (it is completly wrong…)
    Just like Wes, when I first joined the corporate world a year ago, I adopted “Please advise” after receiving thousands of email ending in this phrase. Then 6 months later, my boss told me the other way, saying that it should be “Please adviCe” not “advise”. I was like “OH! Thank you Boss. I will correct it from now on!”
    I am not a Native English speaker, so I entirely trusted my boss, UNTIL TODAY! I should have known better to do more research before using it!

    Thank you Lynn for your advice. 🙂

  • What I often see is the “awaiting revert” phrase at the end of the e-mails – but then again, I work in a very Indian English-influenced enviroment…

  • I use the phrase “Please advise” daily in my e-mails. I googled it becauise it is always flagged as a grammar error. I’m unconvinced to change my ways. I agree with BW’s assessment. It lets the reader know that I need a response to whatever concern has been laid out in the e-mail.

  • Hi, Jennifer. Besides its being incorrect, the phrase “Please advise” irritates and confuses many people, as you can see in the comments above. Choosing to use it daily may not be in your best interest.


  • Hi, Lynn!

    Thanks very much for this article. I was writing an email for my buyer and guiltily use this phrase. I have “googled” it to be sure that I made sense as I’m worried my American buyer will be confused (I’m from the Philippines). So there, I stumbled upon this article. I guess this phrase had become a widespread virus in my work. Luckily, I’m a freelance provider now and I have all the luxury to “Google” for incorrect usage of the English language.

    Kudos to you!

  • To the best of my knowledge (and it might be slightly inaccurate) the phrase stems from the military.

    During WWII “radio speak” was developed into an artform and it was important to have a quick version of saying “I need and am expecting you to give me further instructions (advice)”. Since you where usually taking these instructions from someone of higher rank and politeness was an important part of society and especially in military culture when dealing with an officer, the please got prepended.

    This phrase is still in use in the military today, and is probably equally common in other radio intensive fields (police department, fire department, etc).

    Since such a large portion of the American male population has been in military during or after WWII the phrase has become part of the common vernacular in certain industries.

  • After getting this puzzling statement in an email for the up-teenth time, I finally had to Google the phrase and happened upon your blog. THANK YOU. My instincts pretty much told me that when someone uses this particular statement, it’s a subtle way of making me feel like a moron. It’s one thing if someone says, “please let me know what you think about ABC” because it’s direct and not vague. “please advise” seems more like, “I don’t get it” or “maybe you don’t understand what I’m talking about, so I’m going to throw it back to you.”

    Anyways, thank you.

  • Thanks for the article. While I agree with most of the statements in your article, I find it odd that we should reject this commonly used phrase simply based on the fact that it is habitually used. Grammar is nothing but convention anyway and in this respect we create the meaning through the habit. It is no different than FYI (in fact often used in conjunction with this acronym) to efficiently communicate the purpose of the message, which is typically a forward message where approval or advise is required.

    I can think of no way to convey the same amount of information with an equal economy of words.

  • Hi Samantha. I was interested to read your take on “Please advise.” I had not thought about the “making me feel like a moron” possibilities.

    I am glad you found comfort here.


  • Hi, Adam. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your view.

    I don’t see “Please advise” as efficient in any way but its brevity. Too many people find the expression irritating or vague. I would rather add a few words and keep my readers happy.


  • Great article. I found this blog by searching the term “please advise” after I’d seen it in numerous emails and not really understood what information the sender wanted from me. It would have read in a much more pleasant manner had they simply added a “me to the time frame of this project” on the end.

    Good call to Samantha for pointing out this cultural meaning of “Please advise.” It seems to conjure the feeling of a very curt “explain yourself” attitude.

  • Thanks for your article!! I just had a tiff with someone over the use of ‘please advise on’ when he meant ‘please inform me of’ because the information we needed was not going to influence any decisions to be made.. Said person also likes using the phrases like ‘to my mind’, which i find absolutely ridiculous and pompous.

    Your blog is interesting and useful, I think I’ll follow it. Sorry for the rant.

  • It’s okay to rant now and then, Alison. You didn’t attack anyone. You just expressed a bit of frustration.

    You may want to try practicing acceptance of expressions such as “to my mind.” People simply get comfortable with certain expressions, just like certain foods, and choose them often. Unless the phrase inhibits communication, why not try to accept and even enjoy it?

    I know that’s difficult advice. But if you can follow it, you will be more content when you interact with that person.

    Good luck!


  • Thank you so much for this. I’m stuffed each day seeing this habit in incoming emails. This phrase is being abused making it sound like it was computer-generated or like a standard template. I am out on a good cause to break the habit at the institution I work for. Thanks again.

    Oh and I love your blog!

  • This is too funny! I also “put this phrase in google” (to avoid using “googled it” and offend anyone 🙂 because my outlook would always mark it wrong. Today, I finally had the need to investigate why. This article and the hilarious comments are better than I expected to find. I must say, I use “please advise” because it was in every email between us and our clients. I try to use proper grammar and it bothers me that I have been using “please advise” all this time, while always knowing that it sounds so stupid to say. “we havent received the documents. please advise”…. UGH! I am definitely switching up the vocab. Thank you Lynn.

  • How pedantic of you all! ‘Please advise’ is concise and efficient. Why use some bloated sentence when two words will suffice?

  • Hi, Shauna. “Please respond” is not very specific. You probably will want to write something like “Please respond with an updated delivery date.” Using a complete sentence is more likely to get you the response you want.

    Whatever phrase you use, avoid making it habitual. For example, in the sentence I gave in the paragraph above, you might also write “Please reply . . . ” or “Please send me . . . “–whatever fits the situation.


  • The reason Outlook flags it as incorrect is because of the spelling more so than the grammar because if you open the grammar window, they offer the word “advice” as the alternative which is incorrect. I use this phrase at the end of e-mails that express the need for assistance. I learned the phrase from working at a law firm where correspondence to attorneys needed to be short, sweet and to the point. Everyone knows what it means as long as the content of the e-mail is understood. I submit a phrase we can all turn up our noses at … “at my earliest convenience.” Oh how I love hearing that in someone’s voicemail … especially when I’M the CUSTOMER!

  • Lulu, thanks for commenting. As you can see from the comments above, many people do not like the phrase “Please advise.” I avoid it.

    “At my earliest convenience”–that’s a winner! Thanks for sharing it.


  • Hello Lynn,

    I found this blog by searching for an alternative to “let me know,” because I use it too often. The comments are very smart and funny. They made me think about a phrase that is commnly used at my work, and I find weird “Kindly let me know if any queries.” I don’t think is right, but I might be wrong.

    What do you think?

  • What I dislike about the phrase is, not only how often it gets used, but how often it gets misused. I’ll often receive an email from my superior about upcoming changes that will be implemented, ending with “please advise,” as though it means “be aware” of the changes.

    I simply see its misuse everywhere. The widespread use has led to widespread reinterpretation, undoubtedly stemming from the lack of clarity in the phrase itself.

    I write emails like I write letters unless I’m writing on my Droid phone. I hate miscommunication and, to avoid it where possible, never truncate sentences that can be easily misinterpreted. I find it disconcerting that people treat email as though it were just another instant message. When else does one’s grammar get challenged on a regular basis?

  • Hi, Justin. Thanks for making those good points. As I said earlier, “Please advise” has become an unconscious habit that communicates very little. You make the important point that the words can even mislead.

    I am not sure what you mean by your last sentence. I believe you mean that email demands good grammar because it is so easily misinterpreted. Is that correct? If so, I agree.


  • Wow, this post still has recent comments after more than two years- I guess it resonated with a lot of us!

    I can’t stand “Please advise” not only because it is grammatically incorrect, but also because it seems quite passive aggressive to me- almost like a backhanded attempt to politely ask for an answer to your problem. I love Pablo’s example at the beginning of the comments: “My mouse is broken. Please advise.” Why not just say, “Fix my mouse now, IT slave.”

    Something else I’ve noticed in my experience is that men tend to use this phrase much more than women do. I think that’s really interesting- does any one have comments on that?

  • Hi, LisaMarie. I loved your “Fix my mouse now, IT slave.” You treated me to a big smile.

    Both men and women have criticized “Please advise” in this discussion, and I can’t say that more men than women use it. However, you may have noticed Patrick’s view (above) that the phrase comes from the military. Perhaps more men learned it there, and it has carried into their business writing.

    Let’s see if you get a response to your question. It may take time, since people land here only when they search for “Please advise.”

    Thanks for commenting.


  • Hi Lynn,

    I googled this post after looking through a series of emails from a client, all of which contained ‘please advise’. I just thought that it seems really stuffy and unnatural, particularly when it comes from someone who you have a reasonably close working relationship with.

    I think people should gain a better understanding of how the tone of an email forms the reader’s image of you.

  • Hi Lynn,

    I googled this phrase because I thought I mispelled the word ‘advise’. Thanks for this blog, I realized that my spelling is right and as well I realized I am one of the guilty ones who misuse and misunderstand the phrase ‘Please advise’. From now I will be more careful using not only ‘Please advise’ phrase but several other phrases that can be misleading and incomplete.

    But, what phrase should I replace ‘Please advise’ if I really wish to get advise from my Boss? Would “Please clarify me with… ” or “Please enlighten me on …” is acceptable?

    Thanks for this blog once again. I am smiling! 🙂

  • Hi, Enzo. Great question! Any of these can work:

    –Please advise me about . . .
    –Please enlighten me on . . .
    –Please give me your advice on . . .
    –Please share your view of . . .
    –Please give me your feedback on . . .
    –I would appreciate your ideas on . . .
    –I would appreciate your advice on . . .

    I would not use “Please clarify” unless it fits perfectly. It may suggest that your manager has not been clear. Also, “Please clarify me with” is not correct idiomatic English, at least not in the US.

    Good luck!


  • “Lately a lot of people have been signing work e-mails with “please advise” instead of “thanks” or “sincerely”. They don’t use it all the time, but only when seeking help or resolution to some kind of problem I created. Here’s some advice: Stop signing your e-mails “please advise.” You sound like an idiot. My advice is that you quit your job because you’re terrible at it and your condescending “please advise” signature that you use when e-mailing people about their mistakes is making everyone sick.

  • Hi Lynn,

    I looked it up in the Webster’s Dictionary. If “advise” is used as intransitive verb, it usually goes with “on”, e.g. advise on legal issues. In that case, is it OK for the following:
    Please advise on what to do next.

  • Thank you so much! My supervisor uses it in almost every email request. I think of the statement as rude and irritating. This blog lets me know I am not being overly sensitive.

  • Alex, somehow I missed your comment in March. Thank you for making that important point.

    I don’t like “Please advise on.” I would prefer “Please advise us on” or “Please advise me on,” but I appreciate your point.


  • Hi, DM. Remember that “Please advise” is typically an unconscious habit. It will help your relationship with your supervisor to accept “Please advise” as simply the way he or she writes, not as rude and irritating behavior.

    Good luck!


  • Hi Lynn!

    I found it so great to know that native English speakers have the same doubt I have about this confusing phrase… I’m Brazilian and the company I work for was acquired by an American group a few years ago. Since then I started to see this irritating “please advise” statement popping up in some e-mail notes I got. You are absolutely right to call it a habit, because it is really easy to notice that just a few people use it and very frequently.
    I’m looking for a meaning for this expression for a long time and finally I found it… Thank you very much and congratulations for this very elucidative article.

  • This is hilarious. English is only my 3rd language, but I use it for my ebay activities and I often read this strange expression so I decided to finally grasp it. But now it seems I care more about my written english than my British suppliers :p

  • As a stuffy pompous attorney, I’ll continue using “Please advise” in moderation and where appropriate.

    The rest of you can pretend that talking to business associates the same way that you would to your wife is good practice.

  • Hi, JJH. Thank you for reminding us that there is nothing wrong with using “Please advise” appropriately and in moderation. Somehow the phrase has been maligned in this ongoing conversation.


  • As a civilian who worked closely with US military personnel for nearly five years, I picked up the expression “please advise” as a simple, concise way of politely deferring to the judgement of a superior. I think of it much like the expression “directive” from the film Wall-E, as if to say “please tell me what to do now.” I often use it at the end of an email describing a situation that requires approval or direction from an executive. I have never really understood why it elicits such a strong reaction from some folks.

    There’s also at least one popular culture reference to the expression in military context. In the film Armageddon, the captain of a space shuttle looks into a camera (communicating with ground control), holds up a card with a symbol or short message on it, and says “please advise.” In that context, he did not want the others in the shuttle to know what he was saying to his superiors because of the sensitive nature of the information. Interesting, no?

    Thanks for the thread 🙂

  • Please advise is not an outdated term. It’s just mornonic. How about taking the extra time to write something like “Please respond to this email when you have a moment.”? Be courteous in your email, and you’ll get better results. Take it from a guy who “accidentally” loses callously written requests.

  • Ha Ha! I remember the first time I ever heard someone use that expression…it was an email from one of my customers; the first thought that came to my mind was – how pretentious and rude!

  • One final note for the stuffy, pompous attorney above…in my opinion – using the term “Please Advise” is only appropriate if you lack manners. As for the “rest of us”…I don’t need to pretend, as I genuinely respect my business associates…and my wife – so I would say; “good manners – is good practice”.

  • According to the dictionaries I looked up the word in (like Alex above did), it is both a transitive as well as an intransitive verb. So, you can say: “I advise against smoking”.

    You can also take an ‘ing’ (ie, not a person) for an object: “I advise ‘taking’ a cab”.

    Do you find these expressions acceptable, Lynn??

    As an intransitive verb it makes “Please advise” grammatically correct.

    Now I’m a bit confused… What do you say?

  • Evelyn, you and Alex are correct. “Advise” is used as an intransitive verb in certain situations. I will update this blog post to clarify and correct what I meant.

    I bet you would agree that “Please advise” is a bad habit in the examples I shared. “Please advise of the shipping date” is not about giving advice. Neither is “If you have any questions, please advise.” Using “please advise” in those examples is a bad, unconscious verbal habit.

    On the other hand, your “I advise taking a cab,” is perfect. It is an efficient way to say “I advise you to take a cab” or “My advice is to take a cab.” Your other example, “I advise against smoking,” is fine too.

    Thank you for raising the issue so tactfully.


  • I was about to use the “please advise” phrase and before I did I decided to google it to see if it was proper since companies we deal with had used it with us before. I’m glad I stumbled upon this page! I will definitely take your “advise”! Thanks!! 🙂

  • I need to also share my frustration over the phrase “standing by”. My new customer used this one recently and I couldn’t help but assume she was “standin by” with her hands on her hips and tapping her foot while she counted how many seconds before I could muster a quick reply. If she ever used the phrases together, I may spontaneously combust. I have a problem. Please advise. Standing by. BOOOM!!!

  • All these days I was thinking that Please advise means please get back to me with your suggested answer which looked polite.
    Please advise is used when we are not sure about our answer or finding. Now after reading this blog I am in dilema if I should use it or not.
    How to politely ask a person(manager, boss etc.)or make him reply to the email.

  • I work in academia where this kind of “business-speak” is rarely used. We’re generally much less pretentious (at least in the sciences). However, my chair loves this type of language and now it’s filtering into the admin staff. The other day I received an e-mail that said, “Please advise the student who is hosting the seminar speaker”. As a result I had a meeting with the student telling him the expectations for a student host of a seminar speaker. I thought it was weird that the admin would be the one to deliver this message to me. Only later did I realize that what the admin really wanted to know was the name of the student host!

  • I’ve also seen the phrase used as if to mean, “please be advised.” Like, “Please advise – you only have one week left.” I don’t understand these phenomenons in language. Who started it??

  • Thank you for your time and patience to explain this phenomenon of business writing culture. Thanks to you, I learned something new today, and my business correspondence is improved.

  • After sending an email, I just realized that I have been using it on almost every email I sent that needs action. I searched it online and got to this site. Really helpful. Just subscribed to your email listing Thanks.

  • Saying “please advise” by itself is redundant. The email itself should designate whether or not a response is needed.

  • Dan Palmer, I am not a fan of “please advise” at all, but I do have to respectfully disagree with your comment. In my position in Customer Service, I have sent emails explaining the status of an open issue and clearly denoting a response is needed from my customer within the body of the email, only to receive a one-word reply of “Thanks.” My customers are busy and often do not take the time to think through each email they receive. In light of this, I do find it necessary to add one quick sentence at the end of my emails when I need an answer to something, such as “Please me know how I should proceed here.”

  • LisaMarie, thank you for responding to Dan. I agree that fast-moving email readers need plenty of help to give us the kinds of responses we need.

    I often use a sentence like your “Please let me know how I should proceed” at the start of a message. Its placement there helps readers recognize instantly that a certain kind of response is required.

    Again, thanks for contributing to the discussion.


  • I received an email from an institution of higher education saying, “Please be advice that the office does not open till Monday.”
    I feel that it’s entirely wrong as a sentence and I am doubting the credibility of this institution. Am I wrong to judge them this way?

  • Hi, DeeDee. What an unfortunate sentence! I can understand why you are beginning to doubt the excellence of the institution.

    My daughter recently applied to several universities. The communication that came from admissions offices was generally clear and correct. However, when we corresponded with other departments, I spotted mistakes. I was not overconcerned because they were not widespread or persistent.

    I would not judge the entire school on one or two messages with mistakes. However, if problems persist with more than one correspondent, I would assume the school does not have high standards for written communication.


  • I wrote an email today asking a bank a question regarding a problem I was having on their website. I signed my email “Please advise” and the squiggly line came up telling me to use “advice”. Well, that did not sound right so I came to the internet and found this blog! I quickly erased “Please advise” and just wrote “Thank you in advance for your help”. I was always under the impression that “Please advise” was a proper way of asking for a response. I was never in the habit of using it and now that I see how people feel about it, I will NEVER get in the habit of using it. Thank you for this information.:)

  • From above:

    “We all have unconscious habits.”

    “Do you have any unconscious habits in your business writing? … I noticed an unconscious habit among attendees: “Please advise.”

    It is not possible to have “unconsious” habits. If one is unconsious, they are not doing anything at all. Perhaps you mean subconsious? The misuse of the word unconsious is at least as anoying as the phrase “Please advise”

  • Gentle Lynn!
    I,ve just read your important article about the correct and silly way of the sentence “please advice”, without the unavoidable Direct Object. I liked it verry much, and as a brazilian English student, who is trying to improove his knowledges on English grammar, I’d like to get some tips of yours about English grammar authors with their respective adresses. Finnally, I want to present you my congratulations for your simple manner of writting and great mastering of the English grammar.
    Francisco de Assis (chico)

  • Hello, Francisco. Thank you for your thoughtful message.

    If you are looking for other blogs to read, you can find some under “Writing Resources” along the left side of this blog. These are ones I recommend.

    If you can get a grammar and spelling checker that corrects messages written in English, it will help you very much. Such a grammar and spelling checker would mark words such as “improove” (for “improve”) and “I,ve” (for “I’ve”).

    I commend you for communicating so well in English. Good luck with your studies.


  • Thank you very much, Lynn. You’ve just saved me from starting the habit of using “Please advise” without an object. I have just used “Please advise if you have more concern.” in an assignment. Wondering if the sentence was correct, I googled and found this article right away. I have been in your website previousely. It is very helpful. And yes, I am not a native speaker.

  • Hi, Mat. I am glad to be helpful. To add an object, you need to write “Please advise me. . . .”

    Native speakers might be more likely to write “Please advise me if you have additional concerns.”

    Good luck!


  • I was composing an email message, in the closing used the phrase. Before sending I did a quick Google search on the phrase and found this page. Thanks for this write up

  • I advocate clear and concise language, especially in emails. I was aware that the language authorities thought “Please advise” was considered poor form but I *really* wanted to use it so I finally turned to Google. I can understand the frustration when overused but many emails are short, have limited scope, and start or are part of a dialog. If the subject of the email is clear and the sender really does want advice regarding that subject than I say go ahead and use “Please advise”. If you find yourself, as many in this comment thread seem to, believing the sender is being “stuffy”, “pompous”, or “rude” I suggest looking inward.

  • Thanks for sharing your view, Jeff. I agree that in some circumstances “Please advise” can communicate concisely and clearly. My reason for writing the post was that I was seeing the phrase in many places where it was too concise and not clear.


  • Thanks for posting this helpful article. I hate the phrase.

    Usually it comes off as subtly accusatory, in my experience. Which is not a great way to obtain someone’s help via e-mail. E-mail is horrible enough already; adding a potential hostility hurdle doesn’t help!

  • Hi Lynn, just found your blog when I google on when to use “advise” and “advice” and I must say this is a really interesting article. I must admit that I am one of those having been signing of emails with “Appreciate your advise (something, such as ‘on your time availability’.)” but one of my new email functions automatically changes the above sentence to “Appreciate your advice…” recently. I wonder if the sentence itself is (technically) incorrect but I will remind myself to use a simpler term from now on.

  • I appreciate your stance and viewpoint on Please Advise. At my workplace people seem to use it in place of a question or request for favor or action. To me it comes across as lazy. The phrase has become prominent here in only the last 2 years.

  • Alright, I had to come back to this thread to share my frustrations on this. I continue to see “Please advise” used constantly in business email communications (I am in the manufacturing industry.) I am truly trying to avoid it, both because I think it can come off rudely and because it is not proper grammar. However, I suspect my colleagues will think that *I* am the one who does not understand normal business communication if I write, “Please advise me of the status,” since no one ever adds the direct object to this phrase!
    Perhaps I should not be so worried about what others will think of my writing, or at least I can find comfort in the fact that I am using correct grammar- even if I am all alone in this instance!
    Thanks for reading my little rant:-)

  • question – what about this opening – “Thanks to be advised we have potential new client coming by (again) with their President.

    Is this opening acceptable?

  • Hello, Carol. The opening does not make sense to me. I do not understand how “Thanks” fits in.

    You might try an opening like this one:

    “Please note: We have a potential new client coming by with their president.”


  • This is the most annoying grammatically-incorrect phrase of the decade, and it appears to be spreading like a plague. One can only hope that it will end soon.

  • The amount of comments on this rather old blog entry surprises me. This phrase is here to stay for a very good reason. Business communication has to be efficient and (!!!) concise. If you receive several hundred emails per day, most of which are just informational, which can be properly read later, you need a clear marker for “attention, your action is required”, and “Please advise” at the end of the email is exactly that. If everybody would try to use “proper” language for that then everybody is going to write that in a different way and the conciseness is gone.

  • What an interesting article – I also stumbled across it after Googling ‘please advise’. I’ve always found it to be very passive-aggressive, used in emails chasing up tasks that haven’t been done.

    “Hi Chris,
    Did you manage to track down that press release I asked for?
    Please advise,

  • I still think that please advise is a good choice, but I only use it as a closing to a letter or email.

    such as this:

    “Please advise,

    – My Name”

    The context of this would be asking someone a question IE: you need advise from the recipient. I think it sounds better than than switching that out with

    “please tell me if I can or can not make up yesterday’s exam,

    – My Name ”

    It would just be unnecessarily reviewing what you had already said wouldn’t it? Not like “Please advise” is not itself a review of the main message, but it is more of a reminder in my opinion. I suppose it depends on how you set the message up.

  • Hello, Konrad. I don’t think “Please advise” is a helpful solution. If you have already asked for something, why not close with this:

    “I look forward to hearing from you.”


  • I work in the construction industry and “Please advise” is a common term used when writing an RFI (Request for Information). The RFI is question or confirmation sent to the architect for clarification, elaboration, direction, confirmation, etc. in order modify the contract/bid documents the contractor/subcontractor have bid or are bidding.

    So after writing thousands of RFI’s throughout my career, I finally wondered why is there a squiggly green line under advise and then found this blog entry.

    I believe “Please advise.” is less personal and more professional, which is why it works well for the construction industry. Depending on the matter we’ll use “Please clarify” or
    “Please confirm”, which are grammatically incorrect. However, because the RFI becomes a matter of record in the documents, it seems like personal pronouns are not appropriate.

    I understand it is needed in a majority of other situations. In any case, “Please advise/confirm/clarify” all express a level of professionalism when requesting a formal response just by how it sounds. In the construction industry and most other businesses, excluding personal pronouns is avoiding a conflict with an architect’s or engineer’s ego. By simply using impersonal pronouns, we bypass the potential for drama.
    Reference 4/CS502 – The detail references CS301 for the retaining wall’s profile, but the sheet is not included within the Bid Documents. Please advise.
    If I were to follow with “Please advise us of the missing page”, it may be construed as criticism, thereby triggering an ego. I do not have time for egos.
    Many professional writing instructors teach otherwise, but I believe maintaining a rigid, professional writing style and structure goes a long way. With that said, by not personalizing “Please advise”, the writer is required to provide enough information for the architect or engineer to deduce what is being requested.

  • Hello, Peter. I apologize for not responding to your very thoughtful comment. I missed it while working and traveling.

    Your arguments and example make sense. It appears that “Please advise” works well in your industry.

    Microsoft’s squiggly line under “advise” is simply a flag that you may have intended the word “advice.” Of course, that is not your intention.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your view.


  • Glad I just ran across this. I was thinking the same thing and was looking for a sarcastic graphic, but the link to your blog will do just fine!

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