This is our response to a question posted on Yahoo! Answers. We changed a whiny, amateurish request into a confident, professional request by fixing 4 mechanics errors and applying 4 revision strategies.
Is this sentence free from error?
“Is there any chance that you could extend the deadline, because my college is close during the Easter holiday so I’m unable to retrieve my portfolio until it re-opens on April 20.”
No. This sentence has 4 mechanics errors.
- You don’t need a comma before “because.”
Although you will use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, or, yet, so, etc.) that joins two independent clauses (an independent clause can serve as a complete sentence), “because” is not a coordinating conjunction. Because “because” is not a coordinating conjunction, you don’t need the comma before it.
- “Close” is a verb form. You need the adjective form “closed.”
- You need a comma before “so.”
You are using “so” as a coordinating conjunction to join the two independent clauses “my college is closed during the Easter holiday” and “I’m unable to retrieve my portfolio until it re-opens on April 20.” As stated in #1 above, when you use a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses, you need a comma before the conjunction.
- You need a question mark at the end, not a period.
You are asking a question here (“Is there any chance…”), so you need a question mark.
However, even when you fix these four mechanics errors, you still have a sloppy, amateurish sentence. Let’s think about what you are communicating in this sentence.
First, you are asking a question: “Is there any chance…?” The reader could say, “Sure, there is a chance, but a very small chance.” Instead of asking what the chance is, ask if you can have an extension. For example, you might write “Can you please extend the deadline?” This will give you the definite “yes” or “no” answer you need.
Second, you are providing a reason for needing the extension. This is a new idea and needs a new sentence.
Third, you are providing the request before providing the reason for the request. The reader will respond to the request before reading the reason. Then the reader will read the reason. Having already made a decision, the reader is less likely to change his or her mind. But what if the response to the request is “no”? If the reader responds “no,” your explanation may not cause the reader to change his or her mind. Instead, provide the background information first, and then make your request. This way the reader will have the necessary information to understand the request and will be more likely to respond as you wish: “Yes.”
Fourth, you don’t actually tell the reader what extension you need. If the reader extends the deadline until April 15, this won’t help you. Provide a date for delivering the portfolio.
We use these four recommendations to produce the following, professional request for the extension:
“My college is closed during the Easter holiday, so I will be unable to retrieve my portfolio until it re-opens on April 20. Can you please extend the deadline to April 22?”
Good luck with your request.
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