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From a lang-8 post:

Once the necessary documents have been received, your account will be activated and you will be informed of that by email.

I've recommented to change the pronoun that to this. But why exactly? This signals greater proximity relative to that, and sometimes emotional proximity, according to this answer.

Is the 'emotional distancing' conveyed by that the main obstacle? Or is it also technically wrong to use that in "you will be informed of __ by email"? Are there instances where we can use that in this phrase and be sure that it sounds natural?

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    I prefer "that" over "this" in that sentence. "Once the necessary documents have been received, you will be informed of that (action) by email". I think maybe it's because of the timing of the events. The activation is at some indeterminate time after receiving the documents as opposed to "this is what I'm going to do". If I were writing it, I might say "Once the necessary documents have been received, you will be informed by email when your account has been activated." – ColleenV parted ways Jul 9 '15 at 12:59
  • I would be likely to say "that" but would be likely to write "this". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 9 '15 at 13:41
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    If forced to choose between the two, I would personally pick this but either is fine. Honestly, I would have written "informed of it by email." I think it's largely personal preference in this case. – Jason Patterson Jul 9 '15 at 13:59
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Captain, where are we going on this mission?
-- You will be told of that when the time comes.

Dear Mrs Smith,
I regret to inform you that your husband, John, won't be coming home. He was sent on a dangerous mission to one of the moons of Jupiter, and his rocket ship has malfunctioned and cannot take off again. There will be no rescue mission. He was informed of this before he left but decided to go on the mission anyway.
Sincerely,
Buck Rogers

  • In your Buck Rogers example, "He was informed of this (fact) before he left" seems to be a little different from "After we've made the calculations, we will launch the rescue mission and you will be informed of that by telegraph." – ColleenV parted ways Jul 9 '15 at 14:00
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    Emotional as well as temporal proximity<>distance are factors, I think. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 9 '15 at 14:17

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