I received an email today with the following sentence:

Please be reminded to bring your basketball gear in.

He was subsequently made fun of by a co-worker:

'Please be reminded' - Will you be doing the reminding, or should I expect somebody else to be reminding me?

I am wondering if:

  1. the original sentence is valid and unambiguous, or if
  2. the interpretation made by his co-worker is valid due to ambiguity in the semantic meaning of the original sentence.
  • it is similar to the construct 'please be advised', however if you compare the frequencies of the two phrases the 'please be reminded' is a few orders of magnitude less frequent (see comparison).
    – Unreason
    Nov 8 '11 at 11:35
  • Actually, the comparison is even more stark when you use correct capitalisation.
    – Bringer128
    Feb 7 '12 at 7:03
  • Also, "please remember to..."
    – GEdgar
    Feb 4 at 0:21

The sentence is grammatical: a passive construction does not necessarily need an agent. That said, as others have commented, it’s probably not the most effective way of putting it.

  • Thanks Barrie. Do you have an opinion on whether the sentence is ambiguous?
    – Bringer128
    Nov 8 '11 at 9:30
  • No, I don't think it's ambiguous. If I read it, I would take it as a reminder to bring my basketball gear in. Nov 8 '11 at 9:50

I agree with your coworker: the phrasing is slightly pretentious and obviously imprecise. I would prefer "I would like to remind you to...", which moves it from the passive voice to the active, or simply "please bring your basketball gear with you."

  • 2
    Our simply "Remember to...". The l passive original really jars with the supposed informal relationship you have with a basketball playing colleague.
    – Hugo
    Nov 8 '11 at 6:24
  • Yes -- it sounds like airline-speak: "At this time we will be asking you to please return your seat to the upright position ..." Apr 30 '13 at 20:39

This is a standard formal construction used in academic conferences and elsewhere. The extreme formality is intended to remove responsibility for the act of "reminding" from the Master of Ceremonies, who presumably is of far lower status than the speakers, moderators, or participants in the conference.

  • Good catch on that one!
    – tchrist
    Apr 30 '13 at 2:27

'Please be reminded...' can be used and (and certainly not with it coming across as 'pretentious') if the email was worded: "Please be reminded that you are (you're) to bring in your basketball gear...".

  • Can you provide some quality examples of recent use (say the last 50 years), or examples where this is recommended by a style guide? Otherwise, your answer reads more like an opinion. Opinions other than from experts are usually removed. The entire construction sounds very stilted and old-fashioned to me, like something from a bureaucrat in British Colonial India (such as my grandfather).
    – Phil Sweet
    Feb 4 at 1:21

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