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Dear Miss Manners: What is the correct way of wording for my wedding invitations? I don’t want to be rude and just put, “Please RSVP so we can have a head count for the food.”
Could we retire the term “RSVP” (correctly punctuated as “R.s.v.p.”)? It has confused even you. Your “please” is redundant, as that is what the “s.v.p.” stands for.
And neither you nor Miss Manners wants to give anyone the excuse of claiming not to understand.
Why are we saying it in French, anyway? The correct English version is, “The favor of a reply is requested.”
Dear Miss Manners: When I had lunch with a friend, it became clear that she had missed plucking a long, coarse hair on the front of her chin. She is 75 years old, but most would assume she’s 55-60. She is always stylish and well-groomed.
Given her age, I am guessing she just didn’t see it, as she might have when she was younger. She noted that her longtime partner was away for the season, so he hasn’t been there to point it out to her.
If someone had spinach caught in their teeth, I would let them know in a subtle manner, as I would hope they would for me. Letting someone know they have a stray hair they missed on their chin seems quite harder. And while I would certainly want someone to let me know, I was at a loss on how to address it, if I should at all.
The spinach rule, which assumes that the problem can be fixed instantly, does not apply here, as Miss Manners doubts that your well-groomed friend packs tweezers when going out to lunch.
So if you were to say anything, it should not be until you know she is headed home, where a well-groomed lady would have a magnifying mirror as well as tweezers. And what you would say would be, “Is that something caught on your chin?”
However, do you really need to say anything? Is it that unsightly? Is the partner eventually returning? More importantly, do you know your friend well enough to judge whether she would be grateful or embarrassed?
Dear Miss Manners: In the business world, I have seen letters and emails signed with “Sincerely Yours,” which I believe to be a more personal closing. I have changed my closing statement to “Respectfully Yours.” Your thoughts on this matter?
It’s not that we don’t respect our business associates, but traditionally, “Respectfully yours” (no need to capitalize the “yours”) is reserved for the highest officials of state or religion, and “Sincerely yours” is, as you note, for social contacts to whom you would not send love and kisses.
“Yours truly” is the correct sign-off for business correspondence.
Of course, nobody except Miss Manners remembers these phrases, let alone the distinctions among them. People today are “best”-ing one another, often without specifying whether these are best regards or best wishes. That is all the more reason that your correspondents may be impressed with the dignity of using formal language.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.