Business English emails are usually more formal than emails we write to friends mainly because we want to show respect to the recipient. Here are some other reasons:
1. We want the other person to understand our writing.
2. Formal emails are easier to archive with project files.
3. The email may be sent or will be used for legal reasons.
5. The email is part of a job interview process
When we write a business email, we usually avoid idioms and colloquial expressions, even if the other person is a native English speaker. A native English speaker from Australia would not use Australian slang or phrases when she writes a business email to a colleague, whether the colleague is in Australia or in Canada.
When we send a business email, we need to write a good subject line, introduce ourselves and the topic, explain what we need or what we're offering, and thank the person for his or her time.
A good subject line is considered essential in business emails. Too often, we receive emails from dozens or hundreds of people per day, so the subject lets us sort out our emails by importance. Remember, if you ignore emails because they don't look important, then perhaps everyone is ignoring your emails, as well.
Avoid informal English slang or text message style text like LOL, BRB, etc. Instead, type out all words in full, keep the subject line brief and be specific about what you need or propose to the recipient.
1. Which of the following subjects looks more businesslike? Which would get a quicker response?
1. Re: Hiya
2. Re: funny video
3. Re: Meeting next week
4. Re: Urgent part required for machine
If you think (3) and (4) are more businesslike, you’re correct. Numbers (1) and (2) are informal, and we would only use them with friends or family.
2. Write your own subject line for a business email and ask yourself: if you received an email with this subject, would you read it?
Starting an email shouldn’t be difficult, and, in fact, you can use the same words almost every time. When your fluency in English improves, you can try some different greetings. Remember, you want your email to look businesslike, so keep your greeting formal.
Try using one of the following;
1. Dear Sirs, Dear Madam,
2. Use the first name, if appropriate: Dear Tim, Dear Susan,
3. Use honorific and surname: Dear Mr. Smith, Dear Ms. Jones,
4. Title and surname: Dear Dr. Casera, Dear Professor Lomond,
5. To whom it may concern: (use only when you cannot find out the actual name)
If you know the person you're writing to, and if your company email policy allows it, you may change the greeting to: Hi Sam, or Good morning, James, or Good afternoon, Maria.
The first line of your email is usually the most important because it tells the person you are writing to what you want.
Often you need an individual to do something, perhaps send you information or arrange to send a product you’re ordering from them. Other times, you are giving them information.
Here are some good first lines for your business email:
1. I am writing to inform/tell/advise you that...
2. As regards/regarding our last conversation, I would like to ...
3. I am referring to your email/order/request dated …
4. Thank you for your email, and I am delighted to confirm/advise/inform you that …
5. Following our meeting last week, I am happy to …
6. Unfortunately, I regret to tell/inform/advise you that …
7. I would like to thank you for your support …
8. I am referring to order number xxx, which our records show …
9. Here are the details you requested ...
There are hundreds of ways of starting a business email, and if you have your own particular template, that's even better.
The rest of your business email should specifically tell the reader why you’re writing to him or her and what you expect in return.
When we conclude a business email, we use a standard ending in most cases. These are my favourites:
1. I look forward to hearing from you, and if you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me on (telephone number) or by email.
2. If you require any further information, I am happy to assist you.
3. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response.
The final words in a business email say goodbye, and there are many styles we can use. Please note, many students will write Greetings at the end of an email; this is not correct, and should not be used. Here are the most common valedictions used in business English:
1. Yours sincerely,
2. Yours faithfully,
3. Yours truly,
5. Best regards,
6. Best wishes,
8. All the best,
I hope this quick introduction to business emails is helpful to you. Please feel free to add a comment with your own favourite text for business emails.
Hero Image (email marketing) by Maria Elena (CC BY 2.0)