Who would have thought that not paying attentiong to Latin classes would come back to bite us with a vengeance? I certainly did not. Apparently, learning a classical, centuries old language has its benefits – even in 2017. Modern English, the most widely used language in business, education, information spreading and everyday communication in the planet actually borrows quite the number of words from other languages. A good example is the field of medicine: Words like cardiology, orthopedics or even the word medicine itself have their origins in Greek.
The situation gets problematic when we are not aware of what a word really means and instead, use it habitually, without second thinking its meaning. We are then prone to make mistakes that sound and look, at the very least, silly and at worst painful to those who do know what the word, abbreviation or acronym in question mean. Oh, and by the way. The word acronym? That is borrowed too.
Hopefully, we all remember the PS term. It is what you add at the end of your letter or message, when you want to add an afterthought that occured after you finished writing the scripts main body – you see, few years ago, people were unable to press backspace on their keyboard or phone and rewrite their message. Back then, the saying "scripta manent" – written words remain – was actually quite real.
By instict and habit, we do know how to use PS. But do we really know what it means? The abbreviation comes from the latin "postscriptum", which means "written after", or, alternatively, "that which comes after the writing". It is a generally accepted way to add clarifications, further information and extra points to your message. That being said, there are some people who think that it is not appropriate when it comes to online communication, as an online message can be corrected and re-written rather easily before being sent. Thus, as a general rule of thumb, I suggest you lean on the side of caution and avoid adding PS when you can in your emails and your other online communication channels.
What Comes After PS?
So, let us assume that you have written your message carefully, formulated your arguments and made your points. After you were done, you reviewed your message and thought you should add something extra, appropriately using the "PS" term at the bottom of your message. But what if you want to add more? There are many ways to go about this, but nearly all of them are wrong.
You could write PS 2 and PS 3 as necessary, but that would hardly look professional and in all likelihood, it would dissuade your target from whatever it is you wanted to convince them to do.
You could add PSS right below your PS, as many people do, but honestly, not only does this look unprofessional, it also looks silly. Like we said, PS means "postscriptum". Post script. Which would effectively make PSS mean "Post script script". I do not know about you, but this looks VERY silly to me and I would be massively dissapointed of the person who send me such a message.
The only correct and logical way to add a second afterthought to your message is by using the abbreviation PPS – in other words, by saying "post post script", or, that which comes after the post script.
Do not overdo itLike we mentioned earlier, there are some people who do not condone the usage of PS or PPS at the end of your messages, as it is quite easy to rework your initial message and implement your afterthoughts to the main text these days. Thus, you should only use these terms when you really have to – sparingly, if at all.
Even in cases where you deem their usage appropriate, try not to go beyond PPS. Typing PPPS or PPPPS marks your text as hastily written, your thoughts as unorganized and your character as lazy. To avoid all that, you should probably just try to insert your afterthoughts to your main message.
Modern usage of PS and PPS
So, we have established why you should generally try to avoid the aforementioned abbreviations nowadays. But when is their usage apt or even recommended? We can identify two cases.
Innocent Addition: Quite different than actually adding extra arguments or points to your main text, by implying a bit of innocence or even forgetfulness you are probably going to get a pass from your recipients. For example, say you were going to message some relatives about something. Adding a post script message at the end of your main text and saying how you would of course enjoy to have them come over for dinner next Sunday is not only appropriate, but also kind. Or, alternatively, to wish them well on an ongoing situation they have running. Generally, it should be positive or kind, and incapable of fitting on your main text.
Marketing: Marketeers often use post scripts – or even post post scripts – to make sly references and draw your attention to where they want, usually a new service or product, or, alternatively, the benefits of such services and products. For example, you might receive an email newsletter of a business you have subscribed to only to find that at the end of their text, the author has written something along the lines of: "PS I am thinking of making a new, unique special service for my most loyal fans. If you are interested, make sure you follow this [example hyperlink] to keep track of any updates." The main reason why this works is that, segmented text – and PS is by definition separated from the main text – is easier to read.
Humour: Sometimes you just want to add flair to your message. By intentionally adding sequences of PS and PPS, you can add a little bit of a humorous touch to your text – assuming you know what you are doing. Just make sure you do this only in informal conversations, as your boss is probably not going to like it.
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