If you’ve ever been in a restaurant in an English-speaking country, odds are you’ve seen a sign that says, “caution: wet floor.”
Or, if you’ve ever gotten on the New York subway, you’ve probably heard the conductor say something to the effect of “Attention everyone” or “May I have your attention please?”
And, anytime you’ve attended a large show, you might have heard the host shout at the top of their lungs, “Ladies and gentlemen.
The show is about to start in 5 minutes.”
All of these terms are attempts at grabbing your attention somehow. And, they have become so ubiquitous that they go unnoticed half the time, which is sort of ironic.
Another similar expression that is meant to draw your focus towards something specific is “please be advised.”
What is the meaning of “Please be advised”?
Simply put, it means “please be aware” or “let it be known.” It comes before important information and is a way of highlighting this important information.
How to use “please be advised”?
For starters, this is a formal, if not stuffy, way of drawing people’s attention.
For many, it may even come across as redundant seeing as you are already advising them when you are giving them the relevant information.
They will argue that “please be advised” adds nothing new to the sentence, which is why it should be removed from most writing.
Nevertheless, you will find this expression in plenty of legal and business writing.
Here are a few examples to clarify matters.
Let’s say that you have a specific complaint regarding a company’s product, so you send them a letter clarifying your complaint and demanding restitution.
As a result, the company writes you back, and this is what their response might sound like.
“Dear Mr. ….,Please be advised that we have received your letter and are currently revising the matter.
We will get back to you as soon as possible.
As you can see, “please be advised” is just a very formal way of saying “you should know that …”
And, as mentioned earlier, many people would prefer that you remove it from your writing altogether.
If you were to do that, the above letter would read as follows:
“Dear Mr….,We have received your letter and are currently revising the matter.
We will get back to you as soon as possible.
The latter letter sounds more crisp and concise.
Does this mean that “please be advised” has no uses at all?
Well, it depends on who you ask. At Linguablog, we try to take a middle of the road approach.
So, while it should be used way less frequently than it currently is, there are a few use cases that make some sense.
For starters, you might choose to use “please be advised” if you want to highlight important information that may be lost otherwise in a sea of other information.
For instance, a business might use the expression as follows:
“In the first quarter of last year, our revenue more than doubled in comparison to the year before that. This was due to the decision to expand overseas and capture the European market.
Please be advised that the numbers given so far are provisional and will be substantiated with the help of professional auditors.”
As you can tell, “please be advised” not only highlights the important information, but it also offers a brief break for the reader, an opportunity to break away from the momentum of the writing and focus on sobering facts.
It’s sort of acts like a pause button that tells the reader “as good as this information may seem, you need to be aware that…”
This brings us to another possible usage of “please be advised.” You can use it to distance yourself from bad news.
You see, part of formal writing is creating “distance” between the speaker and what is being said, and “please be advised” can serve that function.
To see this latter point in action, we can look at an actual quote from the US government that was issued not too long ago.
The quote read as follows:
Now, imagine the same quote, but remove “please be advised.” It will read something like this.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”
The second quote seems more direct and confrontational, which is why “please be advised” can be a bearer of bad news.
To be 100 percent accurate, the above wasn’t a quote from the U.S. government.
It was a tweet from the US president, Donald Trump. Nevertheless, it was a good example to illustrate the point we were trying to make.
Other alternatives to “please be advised”
There are other ways to say “please be advised.”
Please be notified
For example, you could say “please be notified,” which both has the same meaning and is just as formal as “please be notified.”
If your utility provider has some bad news for you, they may let you know by sending you an email or letter.
“Please be notified that your water will be temporarily cut off due to scheduled maintenance at our stations.
Thank you for your understanding.”
We would like to notify you
Even though this option sends across the same message, it is less formal than “please be advised” and “please be notified.” You see, “please be advised” relies on the passive voice, whereas “we would like to notify you” uses the active voice.
If a company wants to let a job candidate know that they’ve been shortlisted, they might send them a letter that says the following.
“We would like to notify you that you have been shortlisted along with the three other candidates. The selection committee should come to a final decision within the next two weeks.”
For your information
This is the informal version of “please be advised.” If you even want to go more informal, you can use the abbreviation FYI, a common three-letter word you will find in texts between friends and colleagues.
If two friends are texting each other, one of them might throw this in the middle.
“FYI, I’m leaving early tomorrow because I have a doctor’s appointment I need to make.”
It is important to note
This expression is fairly common in academic circles.
It is a formal way of highlighting important or relevant information.
In a scientific paper, you might find the expression used as follows.
“It is important to note that this is an exothermic reaction, making it necessary to find a safe way to dispense of the resultant thermal energy.”
Is “please be advised” the same as “please advise”?
When introduced to “please be advised,” many new English speakers can confuse it with “please advise.”
And, you kind of understand why. Both expressions are formal terms used in business and legal writing. Additionally, the only thing differentiating the two is the verb “be” in the middle.
Yet, they are completely different.
While “please be advised” tells the reader that they should be aware of the ensuing information, “please advise” is actually a request for information. “Please advise” literally means “please give us advice on the matter.”
Here are a few examples:
If you are having a hard time using the new software at your company, you might reach out to the head of IT with the following email.
“I’ve been having a hard time integrating my spreadsheets into the new system, and I’ve been told that you can help me with the matter.
That said, “please advise” could also be used in a passive-aggressive fashion, as a way of saying that you expect a response from the other person.
If another work colleague has been holding you and your team, you might want to send them an email asking to know when they expect to finish their end of the job.
Yet, you might also choose to hint at your frustration through the letter.
I realize that you have been swamped during the past couple of days with the massive workload you are carrying. However, my team and I are unable to move forward without your valuable input, so would it be possible to give us a time frame during which we can expect to conclude this business.
It should be noted that the above email is extremely passive-aggressive, and it is meant to be illustrative only.
You really shouldn’t send an email like this unless you want to start something.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.