Is this sentence grammatical?

"please let me know if otherwise"

The context for it is when I am sending an email to the boss saying:

I am gonna do this and that, please let me know if otherwise.

What I am trying to say is "please let me know if you disagree with my approach," etc.

  • 4
    I suggest you stick with what you're "trying to say" - there won't be any problem if you just write "please let me know if you disagree with my approach". Or "my intended course of action", or however best describes what you'll do if the boss leaves you to get on with it yourself. – FumbleFingers Mar 6 '12 at 18:29
  • 2
    No, not in this context. It would be fine without the if, though. Otherwise is already potential -- it means something like 'if other conditions obtain', where other means 'other than some condition specified in the discourse'. – John Lawler Mar 6 '12 at 18:37
  • 1
    @John Lawler: Though I do think there's some uncertainty in the general area of "closing statements" such as OP's. I've often found myself writing "please let me know if not", for example, when I know perfectly well there's no unambiguously suitable antecedent for "if not" to reference. – FumbleFingers Mar 6 '12 at 18:41
  • 3
    If not is fine. If otherwise doesn't sound right to me. And it clearly isn't right in the kind of letter the OP is talking about. – John Lawler Mar 6 '12 at 18:44
  • 4
    I've seen: Please let me know if you think otherwise. – Jim Mar 6 '12 at 20:53

I often come across if otherwise, if not, if opposed, and the like in business communications as a shorthand. I would avoid them if possible.

Otherwise means differently or alternatively, so if otherwise posits an alternative scenario. The trick, of course, is to be mindful of which scenario is being referred to, especially when context is limited. To the original question, if you wanted to use if otherwise to see if the boss agrees with your approach, you would need to write something like

I am planning to do X and Y. I think that is the approach you prefer; please let me know if otherwise.

As originally written, you ask

I am planning to do X and Y; please let me know if I am not planning to do X and Y

which strains logic.

Using otherwise in this way can be quite vague, as there are a number of alternative scenarios which could equally apply:

… if someone else is planning to do X and Y [instead of me]

… if someone else is already doing X and Y [instead of planning]

… if someone else is planning to do A and B [instead of X and Y]

It is better to write explicitly:

I am planning to do X and Y. Please let me know if you prefer a different approach.

| improve this answer | |
  • Nice answer, except for the first sentence. The phrases need not be avoided, merely used properly. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Mar 7 '12 at 2:04

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.