Monday Mail Mastery. ’bitten um etwas’.

Getting the message across is one thing, hitting the right note is quite another and definitely one of the most difficult aspects of any language.

I chose ‘bitten um’ to look into a bit deeper today because it isn’t the easiest of words to deal with and in the worst case scenario; we end up with “I please you …….”

“to be (kindly) requested to do sth” is the more formal version of the more neutral “to (kindly) ask somebody to do sth” or, of course, the common …. please, would, could you etc.

Check out the example below for a typical formal mail:

“You are (kindly) requested* to settle the outstanding invoice within 14 days upon receipt of this reminder.” Notice the use of the passive voice to increase formality.

The second is a more neutral and more learner-friendly version:

“We (kindly) ask you to / please pay the outstanding invoice within 14 days of receiving this reminder.”

Simple tip: Mirror the style of the person you are writing to. If yours is the first mail, then try to strike a more formal note.

To get the message across (eine Botschaft rüberbringen), to hit the right note (den richtigen Ton treffen), to choose (etw auswählen), in the worst case scenario (im schlechtesten Fall), to be (kindly) requested to do sth (“Sie werden freundlich gebeten”), to settle the outstanding invoice (die offene Rechnung begleichen), receipt (Empfang), reminder (Mahnung), to mirror sth (spiegeln), to strike a more formal note (eine formelere Tonart anschlagen).

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