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Could we write an if statement just by itself in an email? For example:

I didn't receive the contract. *So if you could ask her to send me a copy,it would be great.

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If you really think it's a good idea... –  Amos M. Carpenter Jun 6 '12 at 11:34

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I wouldn't. It sounds like half your sentence is missing. But you could alter the construction slightly to say:

If you could, please ask her to send me a copy.

The comma is key. It's shifting the emphasis from "It would be great if..." to a more request driven, "If you could, please..."

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No that is not acceptable. You could write something like this:

... So please ask her to send me a copy.

or

... So could you ask her to send me a copy?
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This answer is correct i.e. no, it is not acceptable. The problem with an "if" on its own is that it is merely a sentence fragment. I don't particularly like a sentence that starts with "So". Yet I am uncertain how the question was worded originally, due to the struck out text, so you get my up vote. –  Ellie Kesselman Jun 6 '12 at 6:59

I don't know if I agree with the other answers. While it may not be completely correct, having something like

"If you could ask her to send me a copy..." (ellipses included)

gets your meaning across well enough. However, it does sound a tad unprofessional....

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Yes, if you include the ellipses it would be acceptable (albeit informal). You're making it clear that you're /deliberately/ leaving off half the sentence :) –  Lynn Jun 6 '12 at 14:46

I would eliminate both the ‘so’ and ‘if.

The message can be simplified to

I haven’t received the contract. Could you please ask her to send me a copy.

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I think this could be improved even more by changing "Could" to "Would" and ending with a question mark rather than a period. (At least, it might read more polite that way.) –  J.R. Jun 6 '12 at 11:20
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@J.R.: Couldn't agree more about the question mark. Although it seems to be getting more and more common these days, ending a question with a full-stop just because it's meant as a "polite order" doesn't change the fact that, grammatically speaking, it's still a question. –  Amos M. Carpenter Jun 6 '12 at 11:38
    
Question: Is using 'would' a more polite way of asking than 'could'? –  HELENA Jun 6 '12 at 19:19
    
"Would" is not more polite than "could," but phrasing it as a question may seem more polite than declaring as a statement (and I thought "would" seemed more natural as a question - that's all) –  J.R. Jun 6 '12 at 20:48

This is related to your question.

I once came across a BBC transcript that said: "(Name of person,) If I could ask you to V." And no other half of the Conditional.

Also, "If you can V."

The transcript was meant to teach Business English through dialogues, so they are accepted structures.

Now, as to the question of whether one should make the leap from spoken Business English to written Business English, I'd say it's a matter of personal style.

You can read the transcript here:

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/webcast/scripts/business_lg_to_go/bltg_11.pdf

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They are using the 'request-driven' mode in that transcript, similar to the "If you could, ask her..." construct that I cited in my answer. Traditionally I have seen that written with a comma, even though the comma's pause is often omitted when speaking. –  Lynn Jun 6 '12 at 14:53

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