“Advise” and “revert”: two words to avoid in your emails

Request, please. When you’re emailing me, please don’t use the words “advise” and “revert”.

Nothing wrong with those words, you may say. True enough. If, that is, they’re used correctly.

But when people tell me they’ll “advise” me of progress on a project, or ask me to “advise” them of my telephone number, I have to resist the urge to scream.

At what point in such an exchange will any actual advice be given? What’s wrong with the correct word “tell”? Are you implying that a quick conversation won’t be enough to get the information across? That one of us (me) is so thick that everything needs spelling out v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y?

Similarly, whenever someone says they’ll “revert” tomorrow, I desperately want to ask: “Revert to what? To your true self as an unprofessional layabout who sits in front of the telly all day?”.

What they mean, of course, is “get back to you” or “reply”, which are clearly far too prosaic for your average executive.

Funny, I keep forgetting that getting a word wrong in corporate life is a sign of cleverness and dynamism. Elsewhere it’s a sign of illiteracy. Just so you know.

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5 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. Brad Shorr says:

    Whew, “revert” hasn’t infiltrated Chicago yet – I’ll advise you when it does. Advise you of when it does? Maybe I’ll just tell you.

    Here. “please advise” is a universal closer for emails. It can mean –
    please respond
    please explain
    please tell
    please update

    On rare occasions it means please advise.

  2. Clare Lynch says:

    And don’t you just love it when people think it’s smart (not wrong) to take a transitive verb and turn it into an intransitive one? Spot the three abuses here:

    “Here’s the report I promised – enjoy! I need your comments by Friday – will you be able to deliver? Please advise.”

  3. […] See also “Advise” and “revert”: two words to avoid in your emails […]

  4. […] “Please advise and revert“. Er, what? […]

  5. Daria says:

    Both used excessively at my place of work, but this is from a dictionary:

    inform (someone) about a fact or situation in a formal or official way.
    “you will be advised of the requirements”

    Seems pretty legit. I wouldn’t use “tell” when writing a business email to anyone, not to mention someone senior.

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