The question is about how to use the English verb "receive" in formal business and diplomatic reporting. Hope it is clear.

I work in Kazakhstan and I need some help in editing a news. In my quick google search, I found that most of the Kazakh Press including almost all the CIS/former USSR countries are writing in the fashion that "President of Kazakhstan/Head of the State received Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan....".

For example, "Kazakh President receives PM Massimov" as per http://inform.kz/en/kazakh-president-receives-pm-massimov_a2829894

My Understanding: Generally, the word/verb "receive" is used only when two dignitaries of equal level meet, or when the President meets a foreigner (not just an ordinary foreigner) or religious leader, or delegation commanding high respect. So, the verb "receive" is used when the President meets ambassadors, visiting PMs, and Presidents.

For example: The Pope Receives The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent...............


  1. The President Receives President Xi of the People’s Republic of China.... From WhiteHouse Website

Also, the verb "receive" is mostly used in passive form to show that "someone was received by some other person" or "will be received at some place on some date".

  1. Chinese President....before heading to Washington, D.C., where he will be received at the White House with a 21-gun salute and a state dinner. From NYT
  2. Chinese President was received by Bangladesh President.... From NZ Herald

While talking about the meeting of Akimat/City Mayor of Astana (or by our Prime Minister or by Foreign Minister or by anyone working locally in Kazakhstan) with the President, it is not right to say "President received them" as they (all of them) are junior in rank/hierarchy and the President does not receive them.

I am surprised because in English, different words are used for different meetings such as "received/received"-explained above, "granted an audience" - when meeting takes place with King/Queen, "paid a visit" - if someone comes to see/meet the president, "Called on/was called on" - when official meeting takes place etc. depending on the situation.

So, I think it is better to use the word "visit" or "meet" while talking about meetings with President. For example:

  1. Foreign Minister met the Head of the State to discuss about progress on Expo-2017 (and Not: Head of the State receives/received Foreign Minister.)
  2. Prime Minister visited the Head of the State/President and submitted the annual report (and Not Head of the State receives/received Prime Minister.)

Any comments?

closed as unclear what you're asking by FumbleFingers, Hot Licks, Scott, Helmar, jimm101 Nov 2 '16 at 12:36

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  • Is this question about diplomacy or use of English? You receive someone into your home as a guest. The term is not used much any more, at least in the UK. – Mick Nov 1 '16 at 10:09
  • The question is about use of English in official and formal meeting. Since you say that the word is not used much any more in the UK, is it possible to tell how they report/write when a British politician meets a foreign King/PM/President? Who meets? who is met? – Rajib Nov 1 '16 at 12:29
  • Personally, I'd pay a 'courtesy call' on such an official occasion. – Peter Point Nov 1 '16 at 13:14
  • Welcome to ELU. I edited your post to break up the bigger blocks that approached walls of text. Unfortunately when you created your post, you broke your links. Please include the actual links you wanted to include by editing your post. You can also have a look at the help center to find out more about good questions. – Helmar Nov 1 '16 at 13:19
  • 3
    I know nothing about diplomatic protocol. The word has nothing to do with rank. I could receive the Queen into my home just as she could receive me into hers, unlikely as that might be. – Mick Nov 1 '16 at 13:53

I think your understanding is incorrect: receive is not limited to a visit from an equal or near-equal. It is simply "to permit to enter; to welcome or greet" (as seen at merriam-webster.com, transitive verb sense 3a and 3b).

If the president is hosting a state dinner and he invites a prime minister, the president receives the prime minister. If the president is hosting a thanksgiving football-watching party, he will receive the party-goers. The verb does not change based on the rank of the guests.

The president may receive the prime minister by welcoming her with a warm handshake, presenting her with a gift basket, and having her escorted to the dinner table while a waiter serves champagne. He may receive his football guests by opening the door and saying "come on in, grab a beer and a chair!" In both cases he is still receiving his guests.

  • Hellion, I have a doubt if we can say, "the president received (his own) PM" when PM goes to formal official meeting (and not for birthday or new year party). I am pretty much in agreement with you that President receives guests irrespective of their ranks when the former hosts state dinner, or welcome ceremony for (olympic) medal winners. I am more concerned about reporting a formal government event when a PM goes to report/to discuss/to take necessary instructions to/from President. – Rajib Nov 2 '16 at 12:00
  • @Rajib, if the PM is not there as a guest, but only in a working capacity, then you would probably just say that they are "meeting" or "having a meeting". – Hellion Nov 2 '16 at 13:54
  • Hellion, Thanks for your comment. Now, the question seems to be put on hold and I am not sure if it is active anymore. – Rajib Nov 3 '16 at 13:18

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