5 Platitudes you can safely do without in your letters

5 Platitudes you can safely do without in your letters

Platitudes have the advantage that you don’t have to think long when writing – they write themselves, so to speak. Unfortunately, however, they hardly say anything in terms of content: According to the German dictionary DUDEN, a "phrase" is defined as "a figure of speech with little content". Possibly your readers conclude from the use of platitudes that you have approached the matter rather thoughtlessly. Sometimes phrases can be unintentionally hilarious. But in any case they inflate your writing unnecessarily.

Declutter your letters and do away with these five commonly used phrases:

1. "I hereby give my permission to …" (z. B. "charge for the following services")

Who allows whom to do something here?? The writer himself? This makes no sense: you can’t even allow yourself to charge someone else or otherwise want something from them. Permission would eventually have to be given by the addressee of the letter. Especially with the invoice it is not about "allowed or forbidden" anyway, but about a legally enforceable claim for remuneration that has arisen from the provision of an agreed service. That’s why I usually write plainly in my invoices:

"For my services as … I charge as agreed: …"

2. "Enclosed I am sending you …"

Imagine the writer squeezing into the envelope to actually deliver a message "enclosed" … very funny! Write rather something like

"Enclosed/attached you will find …"
"As requested, I am sending you here …"

Addendum in May 2020: "In the attachment you will find …" is a formulation that has already inspired several readers to more or less indignant comments. This is nice, because it shows that this post is read carefully by many people. If you don’t like this formulation because you have the association "in the plant pees the dog", as one reader remarked, you don’t have to use it. You can then simply choose a different formulation (for more suggestions, see my responses to the comments).

3. "With the request to take note"

If you didn’t want me to take note of what you have written, you wouldn’t send me a letter or a letter from your company. an e-mail, or? Perhaps the recipient does not always have time to read immediately, but once they have started, they can hardly avoid "taking note" anyway.

Usually this phrase is used to make it clear that the recipient of the letter is only to be informed and does not need to do anything further. But that should be clear from the text anyway. In this respect, you can delete this phrase without loss to the reader.

If you don’t quite trust your readers’ intelligence or your own wording skills, you can write as a substitute:

"This letter is for your information only and does not require a response or. other activities of yours."

4. "We would like to ask you to …" (z. B. "Please keep this information confidential.")

I even read this on a sign in a university restroom the other day: "We would like to ask you not to smoke here!"

So what now: Would you like to ask me to (not) do whatever? Or do? I can generously allow you to ask in any case. But if you want someone to actually do or refrain from doing something specific, you should also clearly state that as a request or. Formulate a request:

"Please keep this information confidential."
"The general smoking ban applies here as well – please adhere to it!"

5. "I will be happy to answer any questions you may have at any time."

Let’s be honest: To whom are you "available", and that also "gladly" and "at any time"?? The slavery or. Serfdom has fortunately long since been abolished. Surely customers and business partners are allowed to call you or write you an e-mail if they still have questions. You will also answer them. This is so self-evident that you really don’t need to write anything about it at all. If you still want to do it as an expression of your willingness to provide service, you could z. B. formulate:

"If you have any more questions, please feel free to call me at extension -123."

You can find more thoughts and tips on the topic of officialese on our overview page Best of Behordendeutsch (Best of Officialese).


  • Organization with Sabine
  • 15. November 2014

Thank you for the tips.
In many offices, people write according to the motto: "I’ve read it like that many times before" or (my favorite saying) "We’ve always written it like that".
Good that there are also people who show how correspondence can be improved.
Kind regards

  • Axel
  • 05. July 2016

Interesting. I agree only conditionally with point 5. Being available for queries is not only can be seen as a sign of service concern. To be available also means to be ready, to have done the homework and to be able to help concretely in the matter. Surely the context is decisive for the use of this phrase, especially when dealing with unknown persons. If I want to see something done, for example, then I prefer to signal my open communication and willingness to help in addition to the SgDuH and MfG (which we do not want to delete at all, even designated asocials are very much honored by us) for my sake redundantly, rather than correctly threatening legal action.

By the way, I think your alternative wording is unfortunate, unless you insist on the type of communication medium that may be used to contact you.

  • Barbara
  • 06. July 2016

Some things are certainly a matter of taste, but I’m pretty sure that no one is actually really "available" to anyone else. In fact, a specific suggestion such as "reach me at email/tel. …" also serve to direct recipients to communication channels preferred by the sender. You can use that, but you don’t have to. Who would like to be available further, may that naturally also&

  • Bernhard
  • 07. October 2016

With the word "unfortunately" the opinions go apart.
Is it allowed or not? If no, what is it replaced with?

  • Barbara
  • 07. October 2016

Oh, anything is actually allowed, we are not the language police& "Unfortunately", however, is often not well received by letter recipients because it is perceived as a cheap phrase. After all, it is usually the negative messages that are introduced like this: "Unfortunately, we cannot approve your application …" But the regret seems phony. Here, it would be more sincere to just state the reasons: "We cannot approve your request because …"

  • Jorg Zilius
  • 21. February 2017

under point 2. provide a formulation aid:

…in the attachment you will find…

What should be in the attachment? It should correctly read: enclosed (to this letter) you will receive.

  • Barbara
  • 21. February 2017

I admit that "in the plant" is not really beautiful, but it is linguistically quite correct. I like "Anliegend" just as little as "beiliegend". Fortunately, we can replace all three wordings with a better one. For example: "With this letter I send you …" What do you think of this?

  • Sissi
  • 19. May 2017

I just got my diploma, it says "…it is hereby confirmed that xy passed the exam as zzz with the overall mark>very goodwith very good< passed" is not quite enough? Or "successfully completed"?

  • Barbara
  • 21. May 2017
  • Sissi
  • 23. May 2017

Stupidly, the middle part of my text is missing…
My question is about the fact that it says "successfully passed" – if you passed you were already successful, because you can’t pass unsuccessfully *grin*
And with "very well" it is clear that it must have been successful….

  • Barbara
  • 23. May 2017
  • marion fischer
  • 16. March 2018

With respect… I know, this is also a phrase, but I would like to point out to you that it is also very difficult when, as suggested by you in point 2, IN THE APPENDIX (green plant?) to get something, where the heck to look for it.
Here it should correctly read ALS ANLAGE erhalten Sie, because your suggestion is just as wrong as the criticized "beiliegend"

  • Barbara
  • 16. March 2018

Hi Ms. Fischer, your interpretation with the green is funny& However, the phrases "as enclosure" and "enclosed" are actually both correct. By the way, this is also the opinion of the Duden editors. But I admit that there are even more beautiful formulations. For example: "We will send you the necessary documents with this letter."

  • Hoffmayer
  • 02. July 2018

A former colleague used to say very aptly: "In the annex pees the dog", and since then I prefer the "as" as well.

  • Barbara
  • 02. July 2018

Hihi, so one can see it of course also ..

  • Suada
  • 07. August 2018

the German language is for me after 20 years of learning, still very complicated. My job requires me to write correctly which I always struggle with. Well if must be.

Here I can confirm "Hoffmayer" that I myself have been told by an Interior Department employee:

"In the plant the dog pees" . She worked in the administration in 1964 and at that time her supervisor admonished her with it.

  • Barbara
  • 07. August 2018

As I have already written in response to Ms. Fischer: "In the annex" is a perfectly correct formulation. But you don’t have to use it if you don’t like it or think of peeing dogs&

  • Eve
  • 08. February 2019

In the enclosure is grammatically incorrect. In the enclosure (park) sch..bt the dog. This is what every student gets even before 10. Class taught

  • Barbara
  • 08. February 2019

There have already been comments and responses here about this; there is nothing wrong with this wording, but it can certainly be replaced with linguistically better ones. Here’s a link to the Duden entry on this subject.

  • me
  • 12. February 2019

to 2.
>>"Enclosed I send you …"
Imagine how the writer squeezes into the envelope to actually deliver a message "enclosed" … very funny! Write rather something like<<>> "In the annex/in the appendix you will find<<<
Typically "denglishized Phrasing ("Please *find* attached:").
What should I "find"? Must look for it first? Do I find something in the attachment or do I find the attachment?

  • Barbara
  • 12. February 2019

Oh, you can definitely find something without having searched for it. For example, I find quirky wording in letters I get all the time, even though I don’t specifically look for it&

  • lmaxmai
  • 15. February 2019

Well, if you take a closer look at these advices, you might find out that they are not necessarily much richer in content than supposed empty phrases are accused of being. Regarding the first advice, it could first be stated that the expression to take the liberty of something can make sense. This does not mean, of course, that you have to mention that you took the liberty of allowing a flatulence to go out while you were writing the letter. That would also be something! It can occasionally just serve to flesh out a sentence a bit. The alternative is not that much clearer either. Because which agreement is meant and what does it say exactly? Also, the notion of an enclosed author, as stated in the second piece of advice, is indeed funny; but that has mainly to do with the chosen mode of expression. If you carry it out and write that you would "Enclose with this letter" the "listing XY to the person in question", it should be clear that the listing is enclosed and not yourself. I think it is interesting with regard to the fourth advice, first of all, that in the following advice it is rightly emphasized that a serfdom and a slavery have been abolished and, moreover, have been criminalized. Indeed, the requests listed can also be seen simply as a more polite form of phrasing, asking for something rather than sternly demanding something with an emblematic lemon face, for which one is dependent on the consideration of others either way. The fifth advice seems to be an issue mainly because the exaggerated specification "at any time" was used. If we leave them out or give an approximate time availability, this can still be considered a useful formulation. The given alternative could also be chalked up to the fact that it is superfluous, when a phone number is usually given on the letterhead or elsewhere. I have been expelled from houses after invitations, which tends to have to do with an overreaction on the part of the referring party, however, it has never happened to me that I was expelled from the line scolding because I had dialed a given phone number. Nevertheless, it can be considered an attention that the time was taken to express this in writing.

  • Bruno Stoppler
  • 19. March 2019

Good day,
You write in item 5: "If you have any further questions, please feel free to call me at extension -123."

This is not correct. Because whether others "can" something, I do not share after all. What one can or not one decides nevertheless itself. And secondly: What should "gladly" mean?. Have him or her call in case of uncertainty. But what should "gladly call" mean?. One may call also unlustig or evenly not exactly gladly, or whatever.
That’s why you write: ""If you still have questions, you may/should call me at extension -123."

Kind regards, Bruno

  • Barbara
  • 19. March 2019

Hello Bruno, some things are simply a matter of taste: I personally don’t like it when someone tells me what I "might" or "should" do, because I perceive that as a treatment from above, not as communication at eye level. I prefer to be able to call someone who is then happy to answer my questions. But you can and are welcome to see it differently&

  • Astrid Michel
  • 15. August 2019

Good evening,
the formulation you recommend "… in the plant you will find / receive" does raise the question in which plant (green area, residential area, plant at the pond etc.) you will find / receive the money.) I receive the plant resp. find.
Better in two respects is the formulation "… as an attachment you receive…", because I haven’t searched for anything, therefore I don’t have to find anything..
Best regards
Astrid Michel (73)

  • Barbara
  • 16. August 2019

As already written to the previous comments: Both formulations are linguistically completely correct, both "attached" and "as an attachment you will receive". And you can find something without having searched for it (this happens to me regularly). My criticism of the phrase referred to the words "anliegend" and "beiliegend", for which I offered alternatives. Of course you can also choose other formulations.

  • Hofmann, Anita
  • 14. May 2020

Your suggestion to write "in the plant" is quite terrible. Even during my training, people joked about this: in the plant, you go for a walk… I so remembered that… and you’re reintroducing it again . As an attachment you will receive… would be much more attractive there…
Just a suggestion..

  • Barbara
  • 14. May 2020

Dear Mrs. Hofmann, thank you very much for your hint. I’ve already given all the answers I can to this in the five previous comments on this topic, and now I’ve added a paragraph about it in the text&

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