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Dear Mom, I wish you can come to the U.S. and reunite with me. Even if it is just a short period, as long as I can be with you and carry out a son's duty, it would be satisfying.

The phrase and word I am not so sure are:

1) carry out a son's duty: It is a translation of Chinese word “尽孝”, when I look it up by google, it gave me this translation "filial". But I've never seen this word being used before, so I am not sure how to use it.

2) satisfying: Is there any better word for this occasion?

  • +1 for a good question. But the obvious question I have is.. why not just call her on the phone? Or whatsapp or whatever? It's 2017, almost. :) Am I missing something? – NVZ Dec 13 '16 at 4:27
  • Like I mentioned in other comment, this is an invitation letter to be used in Visa interview – shenkwen Dec 13 '16 at 4:57
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    "carry out a son's duty" is very non-idiomatic, and almost sounds…inappropriate? "Filial" just means of or relating to family obligations, so I think a better phrasing would simply be "so we can be a family again", or perhaps what a native speaker would say is just "so we can spend time together", "so I can show you how much I love you", etc. – Cody Gray Dec 13 '16 at 7:14
  • Consider "as a dutiful son" instead of "carry out a son's duty". – Lawrence Dec 13 '16 at 8:45
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    The fact this is a visa 'invitation' changes it radically. Your goal is not to convince the consular officer your mother and you love each other -- they already assume that. The purpose of the immigration system is not to determine who loves whom, but to exclude people who may break the rules, especially by overstaying. I suggest you ask on travel.stackexchange.com (or expatriates if trying for a long stay), with the full sequence of events and if possible include images of the previous denials with personal details (names etc) redacted. – dave_thompson_085 Dec 13 '16 at 10:44
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Dear Mom, I wish you can come to the U.S. and reunite with me. Even if it is just a short period, as long as I can be with you and carry out a son's duty, it would be satisfying.

This grammatical but it sounds stilted. If it were me, I'd be more likely to say: Dear Mom, I wish you could come to the U.S. for a visit. It would be wonderful to see you, no matter how long you could manage to stay. I love you and I miss seeing and talking with you.

"Satisfying" in English isn't really right for a mother -- I'd say "love." "Filial" is quite old-fashioned but you understand it. "Love" covers that too.

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  • I'd argue that "I wish you can ____" is ungrammatical. In this context 'could' or 'would' would be the correct word. – Chris Pfohl Dec 13 '16 at 20:15
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Dear Mom, I wish you can come to the U.S. and reunite with me. Even if it is just a short period, as long as I can be with you and carry out a son's duty, it would be satisfying.

You should use the present unreal conditional "could" instead of "can," because you are not currently together and therefore this is a statement contrary to fact (unreal).

Your mother is not going to reunite anything by herself. You and her will reunite. Again, using present conditional, you and her could be reunited. Note: This uses passive voice (generally frowned upon) but this turn of phrase is very common and idiomatic.

In the second sentence, "it" seems to be used in a few different ways. Is "it" the time period, or is it the reunification? I think it is the reunification, so it should be "Even if it is just for a short period."

"Period" implies (albeit weakly) something that repeats or is one of many (c.f. periodic, lunch period, Jurassic period). This visit will be unique, so I would simply use "time" instead.

"Son's duty" is not a phrase I see commonly. If you're looking for something a bit more idiomatic, you could try "be a good son."

Thus

Dear Mom, I wish you could come to the U.S. and we could be reunited. Even if it is just for a short time, as long as I can be with you and be a good son, it would be satisfying.

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  • Cf your second paragraph after the block quote - "... reunite with me ..." isn't necessarily an incorrect use of reunite. – Lawrence Dec 13 '16 at 8:44
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First, there is nothing inherently wrong with your original quote. It is entirely grammatical, and its meaning is clear.

Second, to help you with the word filial (M-W link), it is an adjective connoting something a child has toward a parent. The expressions filial love and filial obligation are not uncommon, referring respectively to the affection a son or daughter has for a mother or father; and to those tasks a child must perform for a parent, from a youngster doing the dishes to an adult child acting as caregiver to an elderly disabled parent. That said, whether "carry out my filial duty" is better than "carry out a son's duty" is a matter of opinion.

Finally, is there any part of your original quote that could be changed to improve it, including alternatives to the word "satisfying?" Again, I think that part of your question is most opinion-based. There are always hundreds of ways to say the same thing, all equally valid.

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    Although the OP didn't ask specifically about "I wish you can come," it might be helpful to him to point out in your answer (if you agree, of course) that "wish" usually goes better with "could" and "hope" with "can." To maintain both "wish" and "can" he could perhaps consider: "My wish is that you can come to the US..." Anyway, +1 cc: @shenkwen. – Papa Poule Dec 12 '16 at 22:05
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If you say you wish your mother COULD come to the U.S., it implies that she can't come. Thus, you need to say, I wish you WOULD come, as this implies that she needs convincing, which is the message I received from what you wrote. In writing, brevity and lucidity should be your goal and when writing to someone you care about, directness about your feelings. If your mother needs convincing to come to visit, I suggest the following: Dear Mom, I wish so much that you would come to the U.S so we could spend some time together. Even if you can come for only a short time, I will be happy just to see you again.

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    Great explanations, thanks. I do need to convince, not my mother though, but the visa officer. I am writing an invitation letter, which is just an awkward formality. I mean who writes letters to invite your Mom to visit you when you can call her or Wechat her? But it appears to me you have to write such a thing for better result of the Visa interview. And my mom has been refused 3 times, hence the usage of "satisfying" – shenkwen Dec 13 '16 at 1:27

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