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I took a test about choosing the appropriate salutation in writing a business letter. The question tells:

"If you want someone to act immediately, you can write:..."?

I answered:

"Please confirm immediately"

but it turned out to be wrong.

"Please confirm at your earliest convenience"

was the correct choice. I'm confused why is it that even if I want someone to ACT IMMEDIATELY, I should still write: "at your earliest convenience"?

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    This is unclear to me. Please edit the question to include the actual text of the question you tried to answer and exactly what you said that you were told was incorrect. Nov 23, 2021 at 15:29
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    Maybe the answer was marked incorrect because asking someone to do something 'immediately' will be perceived as an order, and thus rude, whereas 'at your earliest convenience' is a polite request? Is this from a business English course or lesson? Nov 23, 2021 at 16:26
  • I agree with what @MichaelHarvey said. Nov 23, 2021 at 17:23
  • yes, for business letter. Nov 24, 2021 at 14:48
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    Hello EnglishLearner and welcome to ELL! This looks like it might be a good question if you can add the exact words of the question. That is why the question was closed. I'll be happy to reopen it and maybe even answer it myself if you can improve it
    – gotube
    Nov 25, 2021 at 3:49

1 Answer 1

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Your answer is fine if there is no other context missing. In that case, the person who designed the test has made the mistake.

This appears to be a case of bad test writing. It's a common problem we see on this site, where the person creating the test has one particular answer in mind, but phrases a question poorly, so that more than one correct answer is possible, and confused students come here asking for an explanation.

Now, if the wording included "polite" or "to a superior" or "using the business writing phrases we have learned this week", then your answer is wrong.

There are so many possible answers in that blank that it seems quite odd to put it in a test question.

"Please confirm..."

  • immediately
  • as soon as possible
  • right away
  • the moment you get this
  • at your earliest convenience

All those are correct answers. In fact, the last one is the weakest, because it suggests the other person's convenience, depending on who is receiving the letter.

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