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I was looking for a shared room on Craigslist and I found one I'm interested in.

On the post, the writer didn't specify if he/she is male or female. I'm female, and personally I would only feel comfortable sharing a room with someone who is also female.

As the only form of available communication they gave was an email address, how can I politely ask the writer's gender?

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Hi,

I had a question about the ad you posted on Craigslist. I was interested in the house's location, but I was wondering if the current resident is male or female, and whether he/she is looking for a male or a female roommate (if there is any preference)?

Thank you for your time,
Jane Doe

The nice thing here is that it leaves open several possibilities, which makes it less awkward:

  1. The person who wrote the ad is not the same as the roommate.

  2. The person email recipient is not the same as the one who wrote the ad (or the roommate).

  3. The person email sender (you) is not the same as the one looking to occupy the room.

In particular #3 is important because it is equally possible that you may be looking for someone else, which I think would subconsciously make people more understanding and willing to respond—perhaps because it keeps the issue a bit distanced from both parties, and hence less likely to cause offense.

(Obviously, make sure all of these make sense. If the ad already specifies some of these, try to remove that ambiguity from your email so you don't look clueless. But keep the others in.)

16

I think formal language comes in to help here. You simply state what you want and ask if that's available.

I'm looking to sublet with another female. Is your property available for this?

or

I'm hoping for a shared room with another single girl. Is that what is being offered?

Formal language is this stance: "I don't know you, so it's OK for me not to sound like we know each other when I communicate with you in writing." It would probably be impolite to ask a friend this kind of question, but that's because it would imply that you don't know your friend well enough. This is Craigslist: forget that!

  • 5
    Hey, thanks for the answer. Could you please elaborate on why you thing that formal language comes in to help here.? As this currently stands, it's feeling a little like a "try this" answer. – Mithical Apr 23 '18 at 7:53
  • Formal language is this stance: "I don't know you so it's OK for me not to sound like we know each other when I communicate with you in writing." It would probably be impolite to ask a friend this kind of question, but that's because it would imply that you don't know your friend well enough. This is Craigslist: forget that! – elliot svensson Apr 25 '18 at 17:56