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I would like to write a sentence to thank a number of colleagues. I would like to express the idea that it was a pleasure to spend time with them. Which of the two sentences below is better?

I also take this opportunity to thank a number of colleagues with whom I had the pleasure of spending time these past two years.

I also take this opportunity to thank a number of colleagues I had the pleasure of spending time with these past two years.

Can you think of an improvement?

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    Neither one is better; they're both fine. And they're both appropriate and gracious. Grammar doesn't always mark a class distinction. Use the one you like best; that's what you're thanking them for -- giving you pleasure. – John Lawler Jul 29 '14 at 15:19
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    They are both perfectly fine. But I wonder why so many people use expressions like 'take the opportunity to', 'the pleasure of spending time with'? They are inelegantly ornamental in my view. Why not just keep it succinct, such as: 'I also thank those colleagues with whom I have had the pleasure of associating these past two years'? – WS2 Jul 29 '14 at 15:53
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Both are grammatically correct, so that leaves you to choose based on other grounds. My personal preference would be the latter because it feels slightly awkward that "with" is that many words away from "spending time" in the former, versus having them juxtaposed, which seems more natural, and easier to comprehend.

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