Nowadays there’s no getting away from emails, especially in business. Emails are one of the most widely used forms of communication, taking over from older, slower methods of conveying messages like sending a fax or writing a letter. Email is highly effective, it only needs an internet connection to work and messages are easily archived and searched through, making it a popular tool for companies. Although email shouldn’t be used as a replacement for all face-to-face contact, it can serve many functions within a business, reaching people that aren’t in the local area, and allowing files to be shared easily.
The language you use in professional emails will likely be different to that you would use in personal communications. When using email for professional purposes, you should use formal phrases, avoid slang, and ensure there aren’t any grammatical errors. It can be difficult to differentiate between a professional and a more casual style of email writing, especially when English isn’t your first language. There are some different phrases, both formal and informal, you can learn that will help you to write the most suitable types of emails.
It’s important to think about the correct way to address the person you are emailing.
The following phrases are suitable for addressing someone formally:
- Dear Sir/Madam
- Dear Mr/Ms Jones
- To whom it may concern
First names are not usually used in these kinds of emails.
And you can use the following to address someone outside of work, or even a colleague that you know well:
- Hi Alfred
- Hello Eleanor
- Dear Jasmine
There are a lot less rules when it comes to casual greetings, so feel free to try out different things.
Reason for writing
It’s important to get your message across properly. Think about your reader and how you would like them to respond to what you are writing.
Use the following phrases to formally illustrate the reason you’re writing:
- I am writing to ask for further information about…
- I am writing regarding the meeting we have arranged…
- I am writing with regard to the complaint you made…
- With reference to our conversation this morning, I would like to let you know…
Use these informal phrases for more casual exchanges:
- Just a quick question about…
- I was wondering if…
- I wanted to let you know that…
Making a request
Most of the time, especially in a business context, you’ll need to make requests or ask for information in your emails.
It is important to be polite when you’re emailing to ask for a request formally:
- Could you please let me know if you are available?
- I would appreciate it if you could send me the document…
- Could we arrange a meeting later?
- Please let me know if this will be possible…
If you are writing to a friend, you can use informal phrases:
- I was just wondering if you were around later…
- Would you mind coming earlier?
- Can you call me back ASAP? (As soon as possible)
To end an email properly you need to finish with the appropriate sign off.
These closing phrases are suitable for ending formal emails:
- Yours sincerely,
- Yours faithfully,
- Kind regards,
- Best wishes,
These casual phrases are suitable for ending emails with people you’re more comfortable with:
- Take care,
Take a look at our previous blog post for a more in-depth guide on writing emails for business communication. If you still need some extra help improving your English for work in the UK, The Language Gallery has a few language schools across London, Manchester and Birmingham. Our courses are flexible whether you’re looking to study in the evenings after work, or full time in the day.