Comma, semi-colon, or ?
June 5, 2009 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Punctuation-filter: When opening a sentence with the phrase, "Per my discussion with Mr. White __ I am writing you regarding..." What goes in the "__"?

This is for writing a semi-formal email. I'm trying to make it clear that I am contacting the person at the direction of a colleague.

Generally I would write:

Per Ms. Smith's email below, I am following up with you regarding blah, blah blah...


However, today I flirted with using a semicolon instead of a comma. Is this correct? How would you write this?

Thanks!
posted by wfrgms to Writing & Language (24 answers total)
 
Comma.
posted by ecab at 1:13 PM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Comma. Semi-colons separate to independent clauses, and in this case "per my discussion..." is dependent and cannot stand alone.
posted by rmless at 1:14 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just a comma, my friend. A semicolon would work if the clause could stand on its own as a sentence. "Per my discussion with Mr. White" isn't really a free-standing sentence.
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 1:15 PM on June 5, 2009


Definitely comma. When a prepositional phrase begins a sentence, a semicolon is out of place.
posted by shadow vector at 1:16 PM on June 5, 2009


The comma is correct; the semicolon would be incorrect. (A semicolon is used to connect independent clauses without connecting words, as in the previous sentence.)
posted by scody at 1:17 PM on June 5, 2009


A comma is fine. I think it should be "As per" (consistent, or in accordance, with).
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:17 PM on June 5, 2009


Comma it is! Thanks everyone for putting my mind at ease on this one... it's been a long day.

Extra points to weapons-grade for the usage suggestion for "per." You get to eat all the cookies.
posted by wfrgms at 1:20 PM on June 5, 2009


The "as per" construction isn't strictly necessary; simply "per" is fine in your example above. See, e.g., here.
posted by ecab at 1:28 PM on June 5, 2009


Comma as well, though I don't think a colon would be a mistake either (that's how I'd have used it in Bosnia, but the style there is a little more telegrammatic.) But a semicolon is definitely wrong.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:35 PM on June 5, 2009


Comma, yes.

"As per" is much condemned, though "as per usual" is an idiomatic exception.

And if this is only "semi-formal", why not strike a blow in favor of good clear English and avoid "per" entirely? It's bureaucratese. "Further to", "following", "Having spoken to Mr White", "regarding" -- choose a more specific phrase depending on the specific context.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:44 PM on June 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dear Colleague,
Mr. White and I were just discussing blank. It was suggested that you may be the person to talk to regarding such and such aspect of blank. etc.
posted by metastability at 2:53 PM on June 5, 2009


I think "per" (in accordance with) is fine, no need to say "as per" (as in accordance with??)

I saw someone use "Persuant to my conversation with so-and-so..." and it looked great.
posted by cranberrymonger at 2:58 PM on June 5, 2009


Did anyone say "comma" yet?
posted by Aquaman at 2:59 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


However, today I flirted with using a semicolon instead of a comma.

Semicolons are like the large, matronly German woman in the corner who's leaning her chair back on two legs -- her bulging, hirsute arms crossed over her ample chest -- and scowling at you like you just asked for her dog's hand in matrimony.

Don't ever 'flirt' with a semicolon when a simple walking away will do.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:04 PM on June 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've always thought of semicolons as the lean, lithe, wily type. Hard to know how to handle properly, but wonderfully satisfying when you figure them out. Flirt at your peril, indeed, because if you don't know what you're doing, the insouciant semicolon will make you look a fool.
posted by scody at 3:10 PM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm with metastability. If this is a "semi-formal" email, I don't think I'd use "per" in any of the forms suggested. I like the idea of:

"Dear Colleague, Mr. White suggested that I contact you regarding blah-blah-blah. (A copy of our email exchange is included below for your reference.)"

I find "per" a bit too informal anything but exchanges between people who are fairly well known to one another.
posted by rhartong at 4:14 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nthing eschewing "per" in business correspondence. The people who don't know what it means will be confused, and the people who do know what it means will think you're trying too hard. "Dear Colleague, Mr. White suggested that I contact you regarding blah-blah-blah. (A copy of our email exchange is included below for your reference.)", as suggested by rhartong, is fine.
posted by maudlin at 5:29 PM on June 5, 2009


2ยข: I'd say lose the comma, the semicolon, and the per...

"I am writing to you regarding [this matter] that I discussed with Mr. White."
OR
"Mr. White suggested that I contact you following our discussion about [this matter]"

On preview: " what maudlin said.
posted by buzzv at 5:58 PM on June 5, 2009


Semicolons are tricky; knowing where they go is a black art. Never a replacement for a comma, they are more of a almost-period. In that if you couldn't replace the semicolon with a period and still have a sentence, it would be wrong.

You could do it like this: "I spoke with Mr. White today; he suggested that I contact you regarding the wingnuts."
posted by gjc at 6:12 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lose the "per" or "regarding." Don't use both in the same sentence. Too much jargon for a short sentence.

You could say:
Per Ms. Smith's email below, I am following up with you about x.

Or better, avoid per entirely like everyone above said, and break into two sentences.

And don't use semicolons for decoration!
posted by vincele at 6:47 PM on June 5, 2009


A semi-colon just tells the reader "these two sentences are closely related"; their domains do not overlap (that I can think of).
posted by kosmonaut at 7:21 PM on June 5, 2009


Comma, yes.

"Per" is common in law offices, but there is a rising tide in favor of plain language even in that resistant environment.

My preference would be: "As suggested by Mr. Smith, I am following up with you." I see no need to specifically mention "the e-mail below" if the e-mail is copied directly below, per custom.
posted by megatherium at 7:26 PM on June 5, 2009


I'd vote for the date, as in "per my discussion with Mr White of this week" or "of June 14th 2008"
posted by fshgrl at 10:00 PM on June 5, 2009


Further to the previous comments, my mother also used to tell me that the "I am writing" construction is redundant, since it's clear that you are writing since the other person is reading! Often I find it hard to leave it out because we tend to use it to soften a sentence or request, but in this case I think you could do it quite easily! Together with the mention above of using "Following", I'd suggest something like:

"As suggested by Mr White below, could you please..."

which is a little more direct, as per my mothers intention when she'd slap me for using "I am writing"! :)
posted by ranglin at 12:49 AM on June 6, 2009


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