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    #1

    Is "spare your precious time" a formal English writing?

    Hi all,

    Is "spare your precious time" a formal English writing?

    This context is:

    I ask for my advisor's help to explain a difficult academic question. But he is pretty busy. And I want to be as polite and formal as possible when sending him an email to ask for his help. But I am not sure if it is appropriate to say "I wonder if you can spare your precious time and give me an explanation on this problem."

    Thank you so much.

    Regards,
    JamesStephan

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    #2

    Re: Is "spare your precious time" a formal English writing?

    I wouldn't use it- it could possibly sound a bit sarcastic to some people. How about something like I would be very grateful indeed if you give me an explanation of ...?

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Is "spare your precious time" a formal English writing?

    I don't have a problem with the idea of "spare some time" but I agree with Tdol that it might sound sarcastic with "precious". I'd go with "I wonder if you could spare some time to explain ..."
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Is "spare your precious time" a formal English writing?

    I agree about the possibility of being mistaken for sarcasm. Spare collocates strongly with time, and precious collocates strongly with time, but this BNC query shows that "spare * time" is used chiefly when * is an expression of quantity (some, more, any...) or just the.

    b

    PS re sarcasm:The Dylan song Don't think twice it's all right has a good example of this at the end of the last verse - about 2'50" in, if you don't have enough precious time to listen to it all [no accounting for taste].
    Last edited by BobK; 10-May-2016 at 15:42. Reason: Added PS then added bit in green
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    #5

    Re: Is "spare your precious time" a formal English writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I wouldn't use it- it could possibly sound a bit sarcastic to some people. How about something like I would be very grateful indeed if you give me an explanation of ...?
    Hi Tdol,

    Yes. It may sound a little bit sarcastic.

    I appreciate your response.

    J.S.

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    #6

    Re: Is "spare your precious time" a formal English writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I don't have a problem with the idea of "spare some time" but I agree with Tdol that it might sound sarcastic with "precious". I'd go with "I wonder if you could spare some time to explain ..."
    Thank you for the reply.

    J.S.

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    #7

    Re: Is "spare your precious time" a formal English writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I agree about the possibility of being mistaken for sarcasm. Spare collocates strongly with time, and precious collocates strongly with time, but this BNC query shows that "spare * time" is used chiefly when * is an expression of quantity (some, more, any...) or just the.

    b

    PS re sarcasm:The Dylan song Don't think twice it's all right has a good example of this at the end of the last verse - about 2'50" in, if you don't have enough precious time to listen to it all [no accounting for taste].
    Hi BobK,

    Thanks for the reply.

    J.S.

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