There is someone I do not want to see. What can I say to my assistant:

  1. Let him wait.

  2. Keep him waiting.

  3. Make him wait.

What is the difference between these?

closed as not constructive by tchrist, MetaEd, Andrew Leach, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Kris Mar 4 '13 at 15:12

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  • Let, keep and make are common English language (or any language) elements that are easily comprehended for their face value. Just take them at their face value and you would quickly reach the conclusion of what they mean, and your choice of using them. – Blessed Geek Mar 3 '13 at 23:47

None of those are suitable if you plan to not see the person and wish to send them away politely. If that's the case, say (eg) “Please tell X I can't see them today”, or “Tell X I won't see them”, or (less politely) “Tell X to go away”. If you can't meet with a person immediately, you might say “Ask X to wait until I'm free in about an hour”.

Either of the following would be fairly rude: “Keep X waiting for a while, then tell them I'm in a meeting for the rest of the day”, or “Make X wait while I get a head start out of the office, then every quarter-hour tell them I just got an important call but will meet with them shortly.”

  • You seem to write these examples from experience. :) – JLG Mar 4 '13 at 1:10

What you say to your assistant, according to Major Major is:

"From now on, I don't want anyone to come in to see me while I'm here. Is that clear?"

And if your assistant asks,

"What shall I say to the people who do come to see you while you're here?"

You should reply:

"Tell them I'm in and ask them to wait until I've left."

  • Your third example is good, but I can't help adding, "and then they are free to go!" – rhetorician Mar 4 '13 at 3:13
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    @rhetorician- Heh nice. The actual dialog continues: "And then what shall I do with them?" "I don't care." "May I send them in to see you after you've left?" "Yes." "But you won't be there will you?" "No." – Jim Mar 4 '13 at 3:17
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    From 'The Untouchables' (with Robert Stack): 'Mr Nitti says to tell you he ain't in." And from 'Duck Soup': 'Let me know when I get back!' – Edwin Ashworth Mar 4 '13 at 8:51

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