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I often hear or see things like

"You are kindly asked to put your dishes in the dishwasher, not on top of it."

To me this sounds incredibly clumsy and wrong, as though someone has translated it literally from another language. I would have said "Please put you dishes etc."

Is this wrong or have I lost touch? Do Brits (or any other group) really say this?

(I am a native English speaker, in Germany for the last 30 years.)

edit: I have seen it many times in Germany, and recently also in France.

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    It's a grammatically sound sentence. Thus, it's certainly not just plain wrong. How idiomatic it is, that's a different question.
    – Helmar
    Sep 21, 2016 at 10:57
  • "You are kindly asked to put your dishes in the dishwasher, not on top of it." is a paraphrase of "Would you please/kindly put your dishes in the dishwasher, not on top of it." 'Kindly' is a politeness marker rather than the expected adverb ('in a kind way') here. // If anything, this usage is rather old-fashioned (and stuffy-sounding) nowadays. Sep 21, 2016 at 11:02
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    Sounds like Indian English to me. Where have you heard it? Sep 21, 2016 at 11:07
  • You have lost touch. A couple hundred years ago, actually. "Please put" is incredibly rude. Proper British English would be something like "Please kindly do the needful and put". Alas, the Brits don't care for speaking proper English, and laugh into the faces of poor Indians who do.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 21, 2016 at 11:15
  • @RegDwigнt I know you're kidding, but that's not how language works. Contemporary Brits who sneer at such usages are doing so because those usages are several centuries out of date (for native speakers of BrE).
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 21, 2016 at 11:21

2 Answers 2

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As a British native, I see a lot of this style - twisting a sentence just in order to use the passive voice. It's not incorrect, but it's ugly and unnecessary. I never hear anyone actually speak this way.

There's a tendency in genuine official communication to avoid the passive, and use plain English. See the UK Government's site for plenty of examples. The "You are kindly asked..." style appears most often in ad-hoc notices which the author intends to appear more official than they actually are.

(By the way, "do the needful" is a construction I have only heard from Indian English speakers. Avoid that one unless in India.)

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  • On your BTW, I use 'do the needful' despite having no connection to India or speakers of Indian English. I can see online, now that you have raised it, that the phrase is clearly more prevalent in Indian English and seems to be a common part of business language, but I wouldn't have said it was in any way exclusive to that sphere and see no reason to recommend against its usage.
    – Spagirl
    Sep 21, 2016 at 12:27
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Variations of the wording have been around for a long time.

1898: All registered clerks wishing to join the society are kindly asked to have one of the members propose their names at the next meeting.

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