You want to request that an action is taken promptly. But is the phrase at your earliest convenience suitably polite for a business or professional email?
We’ll address this question below. Furthermore, we’ll show you what to say instead of at your earliest convenience when you want to sound less urgent or be more specific.
Is It Correct to Say “At Your Earliest Convenience”?
At your earliest convenience is grammatically correct, and people use this phrase frequently in professional and business correspondence.
This phrase is not inherently rude, although there may be more polite ways to express that you need something done urgently.
Nevertheless, this phrase’s level of formality makes it suitable to use in email exchanges, whatever the size or nature of your organization.
Therefore, we’ve drafted two email examples below to illustrate how you can use this phrase at work:
I will need confirmation as to whether you are attending this weekend’s event for catering purposes.
Please let me know at your earliest convenience.
Dear Ms. Price,
A summary of the requested information is attached below.
Should you wish for any material to be deleted or redacted, please respond at your earliest convenience.
Next, we’ll look at a common grammar mistake people make when using this phrase so that we can avoid it in the future.
Mistake: Using convenient instead of convenience
- Incorrect: Please respond at your earliest convenient.
- Correct: Please respond at your earliest convenience.
Convenience is a noun and convenient is an adjective. Therefore, something cannot be done at one’s convenient. If you were to use the latter term, you would have to restructure your sentence as follows:
- Correct: Please respond at a time that is convenient.
So, we know that at your earliest convenience is a correct phrase commonly used in professional emails. However, this phrase is flawed in a number of ways. Firstly, it lacks specificity. Secondly, it is rather standardized. Thirdly, it comes across as urgent even if you don’t intend it to.
Therefore, if you want to use a more specific or less urgent phrase, you can try one of the alternatives from our list below.
10 Alternative Ways to Say “At Your Earliest Convenience”
Check out these 10 alternative ways to ask for prompt action in an email:
- As soon as possible
- As quickly as possible
- As soon as you get a change
- Whenever suits you
- At a time that suits you
- Whenever you can
- As soon as you are able
- At the earliest opportunity
- At (specified time)
1. As Soon as Possible
The phrase as soon as possible is another way to say at your earliest convenience. In fact, it is a good formal synonym. Although it uses plain language, it suits a formal email well, as it is very clear and concise.
Moreover, this phrase has the benefit of being far more specific than the original phrase. After all, at your earliest convenience is a tad vague since what counts as “convenient” is subjective.
Meanwhile, as soon as possible clearly means that the recipient must get something done the moment they are able to.
You can use this phrase to instruct an employee. It is stern but clear, making it appropriate for when you are speaking to a junior member of the workforce.
Have a look at the sample email below:
I’ll need that file on my desk as soon as possible.
ASAP is the acronym for as soon as possible, but it is often used as a phrase of its own. Obviously, it comes across less formally than the latter phrase, so you shouldn’t use it in an email to a client or a superior.
However, you can use this phrase in a message to a colleague or someone equal to you in the work hierarchy. In particular, it might be ideal to make use of this acronym if you work in a fast-paced office environment in which all your peers are very busy.
It keeps things short and to the point!
Therefore, let’s see an email example making use of this phrase:
The boss wants an update on the client ASAP, so please call me after you follow up.
3. As Quickly as Possible
You can use the phrase as quickly as possible when you have given a task to a trainee and want to let them know that they should prioritize it.
This phrase makes it clear that you want an action to be taken promptly. Moreover, it maintains a professional tone without being too formal and flowery.
It’s best to use plain English when speaking to trainees. After all, they may be less familiar with business jargon and phraseology you usually use in the workspace.
Check out the following email sample:
I have assigned the task below to you for this week. Please get it back to me as quickly as possible.
4. As Soon as You Get a Chance
If a task is not too urgent, but you would still prefer that it be handled quickly, you can use the phrase as soon as you get a chance.
This phrase comes across more casually than at your earliest convenience. Therefore, you can use it in an email to a colleague you are close to.
If you keep things fairly casual and friendly in your office, you and your peers probably feel no need to use formal phrasing and email etiquette in your correspondence. Therefore, as soon as you get a chance will be a suitable way to ask for timely action from your colleague.
See the example below:
One of the freelancers provided faulty bank details. Please remit the payment we made to that bank account as soon as you get a chance.
All the best,
5. Whenever Suits You
You can use whenever suits you if your request is not at all urgent and can be carried out at any convenient time.
This phrase is casual and informal. Therefore, you should only use it in an email to a colleague with whom you have a friendly dynamic.
I have attached a draft of next month’s presentation below.
Could you have a look at it whenever suits you?
Thanks in advance,
6. At a Time That Suits You
At a time that suits you is essentially a more formal variation of the phrase above. Therefore, you can use this phrase in an email to a colleague you aren’t particularly close to.
This phrase comes across as more professional, but it still implies that there is no real urgency to carry out your request.
See the email example below:
I would like to discuss our plans for the boardroom meeting in more detail.
Please contact me at a time that suits you.
7. Whenever You Can
Whenever you can is an informal synonym for at your earliest convenience.
Therefore, this phrase would not be suitable for a business email to a client or another professional unless they are your colleague. If you and your co-workers are close and prefer to keep things casual in the office, this is an appropriate phrase to use.
Whenever you can implies that the task only needs to be done when it would be convenient, so you should only use it if your request is not high-priority.
Let’s see an email sample that includes this phrase:
I have left the memorandum on your desk.
Please add some comments whenever you can and get it back to me.
8. As Soon as You Are Able
You can use the phrase as soon as you are able in an email to a client or customer.
This phrase sounds suitably formal for an exchange with a client. Moreover, it comes across as less insistent than some of the other phrases on our list, which is ideal. After all, you’re not the client’s boss!
As soon as you are able implies that there is moderate urgency behind your request. But it’s a safe choice to go with when you don’t want to sound too demanding.
Therefore, have a look at the example below:
Dear Ms. Cannon,
I have attached an updated version of your account contract below.
Please sign and return this document as soon as you are able.
9. At the Earliest Opportunity
At the earliest opportunity essentially means “as soon as the opportunity arises.”
This phrase lets the recipient know that you would like a request carried out quickly. However, you acknowledge that they may have other, more pressing priorities.
Therefore, it is a good formal phrase to use in a message to an employee. It shows moderate urgency, so they should get started on it as soon as their schedule permits.
Have a look at the following example:
I have assigned this report to you, and I will need a draft completed at the earliest opportunity.
10. At (Specified Time)
The best phrase to use if you want to give a clear instruction to an employee or colleague is at (specified time).
One of the greatest flaws in the phrase at your earliest convenience is that it is very vague and open to interpretation. You can avoid any confusion by setting out precisely when you need a task completed.
I will need two detailed summaries of the Carlson case on my desk at noon.
Let’s see another example including this phrase:
Please submit this report at 3 pm on Wednesday or any time earlier.