Got a bit of an argument about this sentence here (this is the beginning of the email).

"We wanted to personally let you know that..."

Is it OK to use "personally" here?

It seems grammatically correct, but the very structure seems so alien to me.

  • 1
    What about the structure seems odd to you? Can you elaborate? – Varun Nair Feb 9 '18 at 11:57

This is an example of phatic language, a locution that provides no information except social. If we interpret the sentence literally, it is so ambiguous as to mean nothing. To whom does "personally" refer, "we" or "you," in the quoted sentence? If it refers to "we," it probably is meant to refer to an organization and probably is literally false because most of the people in the organization know nothing about the communication. If "personally" is meant to refer to "you," the addressee of the email, is there any way for a person to know something impersonally? And in what sense is a message sent by email the same as a message delivered in person?

What is probably meant is something like On behalf of all of us at X, I am sincerely happy to tell you that ...

A sentence can be literally meaningless and simultaneously grammatical. But in this case no one is paying any attention to construing the words separately. This is a phatic locution: all the real information is contained after the word "that." The words before "that" are the written simulacrum of a smile and a friendly tone of voice.

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