You may have encountered the phrase “attached herewith” in an email or letter. It is clear that the writer wants to direct your attention to a separate file or document, but the phrase sounds a little unusual. Did the writer get it wrong, or is it correct to say “attached herewith”?
It is correct to say “attached herewith” grammatically, but it is outdated and redundant. Therefore, you should avoid using it in almost all formal and informal writing. For example, instead of writing, “Attached herewith is my resume,” you should choose a more modern and concise alternative to convey the same meaning like “please find attached.”
Read on to learn more about why this phrase is obsolete and what alternative phrases you may use to improve your writing.
What Does “Attached Herewith” Mean?
“Attached herewith” means “affixed to or included with this composition.” Let’s examine the definition more closely by reviewing the meaning of each word.
The word “attached” is a participle that functions as an adjective meaning “joined or connected” (source). It can refer to a physical, intangible, or emotional connection, as these examples demonstrate:
- The house has an attached garage.
- Please add the attached logo to the website.
- The puppy quickly became attached to its new family.
In the phrase “attached herewith,” we often refer to an intangible item and occasionally to a physical item.
“Herewith” is an adverb that means “along with this (document or letter)” (source). It saw regular use in early modern English but began to disappear from common usage in the eighteenth century, particularly from American English.
Examining the meaning of the two words, we can easily see why “attached herewith” is a redundant phrase. An attached item must be attached to something, and the reader infers this information. The word “herewith” unnecessarily repeats what the reader has already assumed.
How Do You Use “Attached Herewith”?
You should avoid using “attached herewith” in both informal and business writing. When referring a reader to an attachment, there are more suitable phrases.
When we write informally, we tend to use conversational language that resembles how we speak. Since we don’t use “herewith” in everyday speech, we avoid using it in informal writing.
Even in formal writing, you want to avoid using “herewith.” Because it is such an uncommon word, using it increases your chances of confusing the reader if he or she is unfamiliar with the term.
In addition, the meaning that “herewith” conveys repeats information that the reader already inferred from the word “attached” and the existence of the correspondence that contains the attachment.
So while “attached herewith” may sound good because it has an appearance of formality, it violates two of the essential tenets of business writing: be clear and be concise (source).
When Can You Use “Attached Herewith”?
Even though you should avoid using “attached herewith” in most writing, there are some limited applications for this outdated phrase.
The most common place to use or encounter “attached herewith” is in legal writing. Contracts and legal documents often use a language you don’t encounter in other contexts, which is why we tend to think of outdated phrases as “formal” language.
However, there is a practical reason that legal writing does not change as quickly as the rest of English.
Contracts and legal documents depend on a near-universal agreement on the definitions of words to avoid or resolve disputes. So established phrases and words endure in legal writing even after the rest of the English-speaking world has moved on to different expressions.
Using “Attached Herewith” in a Full Sentence
When you use “attached herewith” in a full sentence, you can quickly see how narrowly applicable it is in everyday writing.
If you are reviewing a legal document, you would probably expect to encounter this phrase. Consider these examples:
- Please refer to the Scope of Work attached herewith.
- Attached herewith is the fully executed Agreement of Sale.
The phrase appears to be very natural in the context of a contract or legal filing. However, you would not expect to see it in other business or informal writing, as these example show:
- The 2023 holiday schedule, attached herewith, is now available.
- Please review and approve the marketing flyer attached herewith.
In these examples, “attached herewith” sounds clunky and out of place and only slows the reader down.
What Can You Use Instead of “Attached Herewith”?
Since “attached herewith” is not a suitable phrase to use in most writing, it is crucial to have good alternatives. Fortunately, you have plenty of options to make your writing more explicit and direct.
When you need to refer a reader to an attachment, consider these alternatives:
- Please see attached
- Attached please find
- Attached below
- I’ve attached the requested file
If you reword the above sample sentences using one of these alternatives, you can see how it makes your writing clearer and more reader-friendly
- The 2023 holiday schedule, attached below, is now available.
- Attached, please find the marketing flyer requiring your approval.
Another popular variation is to use “attached” as an adjective and remove the rest of the phrase altogether. This makes your writing even more direct and concise. This method is especially helpful when you want to instruct the reader to complete a specific action related to the attachment:
- Please sign and return the attached agreement.
- Please add the attached image to the brochure.
- Please retain the attached statement with your records.
In each of these cases, using “attached herewith” or a modern equivalent would require you to add an unnecessary sentence that would slow the reader down.
When Not to Use “Attached Herewith”
As noted above, avoid using “attached herewith” in almost all writing. You also want to use its modern equivalents sparingly in specific contexts.
Use the adjective when a simple adjective accomplishes the same objective as a phrase. It is more apparent to the reader.
There are also times when you want to use a word other than “attached.” The most common instance is when you are communicating via paper correspondence.
In the digital age, we attach files to emails and text messages. When you receive an email that contains additional files, you find them under the heading “attachments.” In the physical world, when you describe additional material as “attached,” the reader expects to see a document that is stapled or otherwise affixed to the cover page.
When you include additional documents with a physical letter but do not join them to the letter, you are enclosing the supplemental material. So you would not deliver a paper letter that directs the reader to attached documents. Instead, you would say things such as:
- Please sign the enclosed agreement.
- I have enclosed the original photographs.
- Keep the enclosed copies for your records.
Prepositional verbs are a class of multi-word English phrases that consist of a verb and a preposition that affects the verb’s meaning. Prepositional verbs always take a direct object.
Consider the distinct meanings of the following verb phrases:
- Look like
- Look at
- Look for
If you speak another language, you know these words as three entirely different verbs. In English, the preposition distinguishes them from their root verb, “to look.”
Looking at a painting is a very different action from looking for your keys. By contrast, looking like your brother doesn’t require any action at all on your part.
To learn more about the nuances of prepositional verbs, check out our article Hold onto or Hold on to: Meaning, Grammar, and Proper Usage.
Phrasal verbs are similar to prepositional verbs. These multi-word verb phrases use an adverb particle instead of a preposition (source). However, phrasal verbs do not always require an object.
Consider these examples:
- Go: To move from one point to another
- Go out: To leave your house for a brief time
“Attached herewith” is an example of a phrasal verb since “herewith” is an adverb already meaning “to this document.” Grammatically, it cannot take an object.
If you write “attached herewith this email,” you can see that something is missing. What’s missing is a preposition. To be grammatically correct, you would need to write “attached herewith to this email.”
If this sounds confusing, that’s because it is. This confusion is one of the reasons that “herewith” and similar outdated adverbs are no longer popular. Because they are made by compounding an adverb and a preposition to form a new adverb, it is hard to tell which part of speech they really are by looking at them.
In English, some phrasal verbs combine an adverb and a preposition to add meaning. Just as “go” and “go out” above mean different things, the phrasal-prepositional verb “go out with” means “to date socially.”
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
You might be inclined to use the phrasal-prepositional construction of “attached herewith to” in your writing to make a grammatically correct sentence. However, doing so also makes the sentence redundant because the prepositional phrase repeats the meaning of the word “herewith” and reveals why it is best that we simply not use it.
For good reasons, “attached herewith” has fallen out of everyday use in modern American English. However, you may see it from time to time in legal writing. Regardless, you may choose from several simpler and more precise ways to point your readers to something you have attached to the message.