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English is not my native language and I need some help understanding the following sentence:

Please see that the due date has been postponed.

What should be understood from such a sentence?
Is it used to inform that the due date has been postponed or to ask someone to postpone the due date?
Or is the sentence incorrect in the first place?

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    It's ambiguous. It could mean 'please notice ...', i.e, an informational sentence. Or it could be an order to the reader to make sure that the date has been postponed. Which implies that the writer thinks the reader has that power. This wouldn't happen in speech, of course, since the intonation would disambiguate the two meanings. English writing doesn't represent intonation and only represents speech incompetently. Jun 14, 2022 at 14:05
  • Yes, both senses (take notice, or make sure that) could be what the sender meant, and the rest will tell which is which. If they announced the change, this is a reminder. If they want you to postpone the date, they gave you a reason. Jun 14, 2022 at 15:08

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Please see X or sometimes just see X is commonly used to refer a reader to another document or another part of this document, normally one that contains additional detail. For example, in an email containing a spreadsheet attachment one might write:

In light of poor sales figures (please see attached spreadsheet), we think that...

Washington State University gives the following example as a way to reference an appendix to a written paper within the body of the paper:

For example, we could say something like "Please see Appendix A for more information on educational outcomes and Appendix B for the questionnaire used to collect student responses."

The example given in the question is something of a nonstandard usage. It is informing the reader that the due date has changed, and it appears to also be referring to a date elsewhere in the document. A better choice there might have been "Please note that the due date has been postponed". Another option would be "Note that the due date has been postponed (please see above)".

It is not asking the reader to change the due date, since it says that "the due date has been postponed", indicating that the postponement has already happened. If it were asking the reader to change the due date, it would probably be written as "Please see to it that the due date is changed" or similar.

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  • You could use it in a request, although it would be awkward and ambiguous (it would be more common to word a request like "Please ensure that this has been completed before you go home").
    – Stuart F
    Jun 14, 2022 at 15:22
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The meaning depends on the context. If the due date refers to a payment you must make, and the sentence is in a letter asking for payment, it means that you are to observe (see) and take note of the revised due date. If you are working in an office sending out requests for payment and the sentence comes from your boss, it means you are to check that the due date has been changed to a later date, and if it has not been changed you are to ensure that this happens.

In the first situation note would be more usual than see.

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