Me and a colleague were jointly writing an email to an English speaking business partner when a discussion arose on how to formulate a sentence.

The business partner is currently on vacation, so I thought that the sentence "We hope you're having a good time on your vacation" was a good and appropriate way to address this in the beginning of the email. My colleague on the other hand said that the phrase "having a good time" is more personal and something you say to people you know more personally and something along the line of "We hope you're enjoying your vacation" would be more appropriate.

What would you say the correct semantic of this phrase is?

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    you're is spoken. you are is written. I would agree the second wording is less informal and there is a connotation with sex on the "good time" expression – mplungjan Jul 12 '13 at 9:56
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    I prefer the revised version, but not because it's more "semantically correct" – the more concise version just reads better, I think. – J.R. Jul 12 '13 at 10:24
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    @mplungjan How does the first expression have any connotation with sex? – TrevorD Jul 12 '13 at 11:41
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    Me is thinking something wrong with this sentence is. – tchrist Jul 12 '13 at 12:29
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    JR's comment seems like a good answer to me. Also, while "having a good time" could have a sexual connotation, so could a million other phrases. However, I support TrevorD's rejection of mplungian's suggestion that the phrase is tainted by some inextricable carnal connection. – sarah Jul 13 '13 at 20:00

"We hope you're having a good time on your vacation" has a casual vibe to it. I wouldn't say overfamiliar.

It depends how well you get on. Are you on first name terms? Do you ever joke with eachother? Have you had a business meeting over a drink or something?

You should really get a feel for which one is the most appropriate based on your relationship with this person.

"We hope you're enjoying your vacation" is what I personally would say to a business partner unless we knew eachother on friendlier terms. It is cordial, but also professional sounding.

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Both sentences are equally correct. I would argue that having a good time does sound a touch less formal, but it is in no way informal or inappropriate. Also, I hate to be a pedant, but your first sentence ought to start with A colleague and I since you are performing an action.

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  • Agreed. “We hope you are enjoying your vacation” has a better flow to it (to my ear), but neither is inappropriate or overly informal. To continue in the pedantic vein, though, the reason it should be “A colleague and I” is because they are the subject, not because they are performing an action. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 16 '13 at 16:58
  • Good point with your extended pedantry! I conflated the fact that 'subject performs action' with 'thing that performs action is subject'; how silly of me :) – Mason Hemmel Jul 16 '13 at 17:14
  • And sometimes subjects don’t perform actions; e.g. “A colleague and I were being shouted at by our boss while wishing he’d join our business partner on vacation”, where the one performing the action is the stentorian boss, not the (his) poor subjects. ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 16 '13 at 17:19

You could also say:

I hope you are enjoying your personal time off away from office.

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