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I'm writing a letter for an attorney. I need to know which sentence is grammatically correct so he doesn't sound uneducated. Which sentence is more in accord with standard English?

  • Please have the president and yourself sign the document.
  • Please have the president and you sign the document.
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    Perhaps a rewrite along the lines of "Please sign the document, and have the president sign it too." Or "Both you and the president need to sign the document." – Hellion Dec 1 '17 at 15:08
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    I hope he's paying you big bucks for helping him not sound uneducated. – Arm the good guys in America Dec 1 '17 at 15:17
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I would consider Hellion's suggestions: to rephrase the statement.

Yet, if you still want to maintain the style you provided, you must use a reflexive pronoun because in imperative sentences, you are addressing someone, who is normally "you", even though this subject is hidden. So, that's how you would read it:

You please have the president...

Therefore, since the subject you is there and you are referring to him/her, then the reflexive pronoun must be used:

Please have the president and yourself sign the document.

That's how it is theoretically read:

You please have the president and yourself sign the document.

(yourself) referring to the first and hidden subject (you).

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The second option is grammatical, but both options sound awkward, which is not good for a lawyer, who is supposed to be skilled in writing.

"Please have you sign" is not idiomatic and may be incorrect grammar. "You" is already implied with an imperative. "Please sign" is correct. "Please sign yourself" is grammatical but redundant.

The problem here is that two different verbs are implicitly being directed at two different people. "Please sign" is correct, clear, and concise. "Please have the president sign" is correct, clear, and concise.

If you want both to maintain the "please" for the sake of courtesy and to avoid an awkward sounding sentence, you could try "Please sign yourself and have the president sign as well," which is grammatical, idiomatic, and clear. Alternatively, you could try something like "Please note that both you and the president must sign."

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  • I was writing my answer when haseo posted his excellent answer. I hesitate to be too dogmatic when it comes to pronouncements about grammar because so many grammarians today are descriptivists. From a prescriptivist standpoint, I agree with haseo that "please have you sign" is incorrect grammar. – Jeff Morrow Dec 1 '17 at 17:13
  • Sorry but neither sentence is in accord with standard English. As in most elementary-school examples, drop the other person and ask whether Please have yourself sign the document works, please? In the same way, how could Please have you sign the document work? Prolly the closest you could get to your original wording would be Please have the document signed by both the president and you (yourself). – Robbie Goodwin Dec 6 '17 at 22:04

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