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How to write emails in English.

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

These materials are designed to help you to prepare for a lesson on: Writing Professional Emails in English.

Being able to write clear, professional emails in English is a skill that is essential for anyone currently working, or applying to work in English. Being able to do this quickly and efficiently has the potential as well to save a significant amount of time in your work life.


Instructions:

  • Firstly, look at the preparation tasks that I have chosen to help you to develop this skill.

  • Then, look at the materials provided to help with your preparation tasks and in terms of your general understanding of this particular skill.

  • Lastly, complete the tasks prior to the lesson*. (Starting by having the student complete a preparation tasks gives me an understanding of the learners ability with this task to effectively ensure and build on their understanding of appropriate language and vocabulary, good use of grammar and clear communicational skills to communicate clearly, confidently and professionally in English).

*If it's not possible to complete the tasks outside of the lesson, then we can do this as part of a lesson. I prefer to give student the option of doing as much work in their own time as possible to be more cost efficient and to maximise learning.


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The Preparation Tasks


Your task has arrived via email below;

* Another really effective way of preparing for this lesson is to use emails that you have actually written for work - you would need to make sure that any confidential information was removed before sharing them, or simply anonymise them entirely - but looking at what you have written is an excellent way of giving you the skills that you can use immediately at work.


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The Materials

Firstly, always follow these essential principles for email writing in English;

  1. Use, simple, short sentences - an email should be direct and to the point. Ask yourself "what do I actually want to say", "what do I want the recipient to understand" and "How do I communicate that in the most simplistic way".

  2. Avoid using any idiomatic language in emails and try to avoid using phrasal verbs when there is a simple verb with the same meaning – (i.e. the meeting starts at 1pm” instead of “the meeting kicks off at 1pm”).

  3. Always read your email out loud before sending it - this helps to test the tone of the email and identify any errors in structure or grammar. If it sounds strange when you are reading it out loud, then change it. It's also worth reading my second post on emailing to think more about the appropriate use of Tone in Emails.



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Essential email phrases and their purposes


Choosing the correct form of address:

  • Hello ________, (Both formal and informal - works pretty much every time).

  • Hi ____, (Informal, for a ‘personally’ known contact)

  • Dear Mr male name / Dear Ms female name. (Formal contacts)

  • To whom it may concern. (For contacting somewhere and you don't know the name of the person who will actually receive the email)

Friendly opening statements:

  • I hope you are well. (Informal, for a ‘personally’ known contact)

  • I hope this email finds you well. (Formal contact).

Introducing the purpose of the email:

  • I’m writing (to you) with regards to / about __________.

  • I’m writing (to you) to inquire about __________.

  • I’m writing (to you) to request __________.

  • I’m writing (to you) in connection with __________.


  • I wanted to catch up about _________________.

  • I wanted to talk to you about __________.

  • I wanted to ask about __________.

  • Have you had a chance to _________________.

Contacting on someone else's behalf:

  • I’m writing (to you) on behalf of our client.

  • You recently contacted my colleague __________ and I'm following up on their behalf.

  • You recently contacted our department and __________.

Responding as part of an existing conversation:

  • Thank you for your prompt reply.

  • Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

Responding after a Delay:

  • Please excuse the delay in responding to your last email,

  • Sorry for taking so long to get back to you,

Adding Attachments:

  • In the attached ___________ you will find ___________.

  • Attached to this email is ___________.


The Main Body of the Email


The main body of the email is likely to be so specific that it simply can't be covered by any meaningful expressions here, but... if it relates to anything that I have written materials on already, then It'd be worth looking at the specific materials: Giving an Update Report / Responding to a Complaint / Negotiating in English / Saying "no" appropriately / Saying "I don't know" confidently / Asking the Right Questions / Giving Constructive Feedback / Apologising and saying 'sorry' convincingly.


Concluding the Email


Concluding lines:

  • Please get back to me as soon as you can.

  • Could you get back to me (about something) before/by __________?

  • I will await your response before taking any further action.

  • I'm not able to take any further action until you have responded.

  • Please let me know what you think.

  • I look forward to hearing back from you.

  • If I don't hear back from by __________, then I will ________.

Signing off:

  • Yours sincerely. (formal).

  • Kind Regards. (formal).

  • Regards. (neutral).

  • Best. (informal).

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Finished


Having looked at the materials and completed the preparation tasks, you are ready for the lesson. Send anything you have prepared to me if you would like me to look at it before the lesson - joel.white.english@gmail.com




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