I noticed that in business English, "please advise" is often used as a fixed phrase in context where it basically means "please respond". I looked at Wiktionary and found this among the definitions:

(transitive) To give information or notice to; to inform or counsel; — with of before the thing communicated.

Does "of" have a special meaning here?

  • BTW, I wasn't sure if it belongs to ELL.SE.com or English.SE.com more.
    – d33tah
    Mar 26 '18 at 12:32

The word "of" is in italics in the original. The phrase you highlighted, more properly formatted as

  • "with of before the thing communicated",

means that the word "advise" is accompanied by the word "of", where the word "of" is written "before the thing communicated".

Their example makes this clear:

We were advised of the risk.

The word "of" accompanies the word "advise(d)", and is written before the phrase "the risk" (which is the thing communicated or advised).

As @R.M. comments, this is a 'use-mention distinction':

The distinction between use and mention can be illustrated for the word cheese:

  • Use: Cheese is derived from milk.
  • Mention: 'Cheese' is derived from the Old English word ċēse.

The first sentence is a statement about the substance called "cheese"; it uses the word 'cheese' to refer to that substance. The second is a statement about the word 'cheese' as a signifier; it mentions the word without using it to refer to anything other than itself.

- Wikipedia

In the terminology of this distinction, the word "of" in your example is mentioned but not used.

  • 4
    See the use–mention distinction for more information as to why the italics are important in interpreting the sentence.
    – R.M.
    Mar 26 '18 at 18:27
  • @R.M. Thanks, and spot on - I've added this to my answer.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 26 '18 at 23:21
  • 1
    Probably worth noting that one wouldn't use of in the example in the question. E.g., "Please advise when you're available for a meeting" or "Please advise whether this is possible." Mar 27 '18 at 7:17
  • @T.J.Crowder Which example are you referring to? I don’t see one in the question at the moment, but I might have missed something.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 27 '18 at 9:14
  • @Lawrence: The first sentence of the question: "I noticed that in business English, "please advise" is often used as a fixed phrase in context where it basically means "please respond"." Not a full example by any means, but you wouldn't use "of" there in the context described. Mar 27 '18 at 9:16

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