Please, Please Explain R.S.V.P.!

Most people issue formal invitations once or twice a decade. Here at Naptime Productions we print dozens everyday. So we inevitably think about grammar and etiquette conundrums that most people don’t. Here’s an example.

Requesting a reply from guests.

The French used the sentence “Repondez, s’il vous plait.” which translates “Please respond.” It was eventually shortened to R.s.v.p. and placed in a lower corner of the invitation. In Emily Post’s Etiquette, Blue Book of Social Usage on page 426 she states ” The forms R.s.v.p. and R.S.V.P. are both correct. It is to be noted that in France and in diplomatic circles the capital letters are the correct form.” While R.S.V.P. may be interpreted to be more formal, we find it illegible in fonts that have very complicated capital letters. So occasionally we will recommend using R.s.v.p. for clarity.

Isn’t it polite to add a “please” before R.s.v.p.?

It is redundant, because R.s.v.p. means “please respond”. Although redundancy in the name of politeness can be forgiven, we often recommend simply using “Please reply” or “Please respond”. Thus avoiding having the request interpreted as “Please respond, please” or worse “Please, please respond” which may sound just at little bit like whining.

R.S.V.P. or RSVP?

Most people send their wording in with RSVP. In Emily Post primarily uses R.s.v.p. and mentions R.S.V.P. but never RSVP. So we add the periods. Unless you request we don’t.

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