If you have a problem, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing. - Ernest Hemingway

Monday, 21 November 2016

Notes to my Students # 16: Please do the needful

This is an Indian English expression we use at the end of almost every business email / letter. But sadly, the rest of the world doesn't understand it. I always thought there is hardly any other more self-explanatory phrase in English than this, particularly in the context of business communication. And I always believed it is just a matter of time before it became part of what is vaguely called Standard English.
But the world has started learning English from us! Please read this from wwwDOTgrammarilyDOTcom.


"Do the needful originated in India, is commonly used in African countries, and was once heard frequently in the United Kingdom as well. After the Victorian period, its usage in the West died out, but with the increase in outsourcing to and from India, it started catching the ear of English speakers in the West again.
"Do the needful means do that which is needed. It’s mainly used in formal written communication, especially when dealing with bureaucracy. It can be preceded by the words “kindly” or “please.” Ideally, it should follow an explanation of a problem that needs to be fixed or a request that is being made. It’s important to provide enough context about what “the needful” actually is, because the phrase itself doesn’t specify.
"There are many other phrases you could use instead of do the needful. “Please do what I asked” or “could you please fix this” might suffice, although “please do what needs to be done” or “please do what is required” are the phrases closest to the original meaning."


Here are a few illustrative sentences that I could think of:
1. "Madam, Of late, your dog has been using our porch as a free open-air toilet, with particular focus on my car tyres. I would request you to please do the needful."
2. "Sir, Raghu has started a side business of exchanging high-denomination notes at a discount. And unfortunately, he is doing this during office hours. Kindly do the needful."

So, if you think you'd like to use this phrase, please do the needful. That is, jot it down in your word book, frame a few sentences around it, and say the sentences in your head, and finally, look for an opportunity to use the expression. Cheers!

20 Nov 2016

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