Writing emails

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Writing emails: Suitable expressions for formal emails

This is a guide to writing emails for English learners and for ESL/EFL teachers.


1 Introduction

A formal email, like a business letter, will have a salutation (greeting), an introduction, a main body with the main point of your email, a conclusion and/or goodbye, followed by your signature. The subject line of your email should be reasonably informative about the purpose of your email. If you are replying to fairly long email, be sure to edit out parts of the original that are not relevant to your reply. If you use a standard signature or signature file for your emails, keep it to no more than 5-6 lines.

In Western culture, one might get more directly to the point in the first paragraph of an email or letter, while Asian writers prefer a few pleasantries first (“Hello. How are things?”). Nonetheless, at least some brief pleasantry or greeting in the first paragraph may be helpful for any addressee in a formal or semi-formal email. Below are some typical English email phrases that you might find useful for formal or semi-formal emails.


2 Email sections

2.1 Salutation

Dear Mr. Smith:
Dear Mr. Smith,
Dear Professor Smith:
(Less formal): Dear Sally,
Hello,


2.2 Beginning

Might I take a moment of your time to...
In reference to my email of October 13th ...
Thank you for your email regarding...
I am writing to draw your attention to...
I am writing to let you know (that) ...
In reply to your email, here are...
I’m writing in connection with / with regard to...
Your name was given to me by...
We are writing to inquire about...
I am writing on behalf of...


2.3 Questions and requests

I would really appreciate...
I would appreciate your help in this matter.
I would be grateful if you could...

I wonder if you could...
Do you think I could have......
What are your thoughts on this?
I await a response at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for inquiring about...

I trust the above resolves your queries / questions.
Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Please do not hesitate to contact me.
I would really appreciate your help on this,
Would you please help me out on this?
Thank you for helping me solve this problem.
Would Tuesday, 14 November be convenient for you?


2.4 Asking for or giving information

I’m writing to let you know that...
We are able to confirm that...
I am delighted to tell you that...
We regret to inform you that...
Could you give me some information about...
Could you tell me a little more about...
I would like to know...
I would be interested in receiving...

Please find the document attached.
Another option would be to...


2.5 Complaints and apologies

I find it most unsatisfactory (that) ...
I would like to apologize for any inconvenience (that I may have caused you)
I regret to inform you that...
We would like to offer our sincere apologies for our error.
There are several points that we do not quite understand, and we feel there may have been a misunderstanding between us.
We were rather surprised and disappointed by this.
We have not received the requested information. Could you please attend to this matter as soon as possible?


2.6 Offering help or action

Would you like me to...?
If you wish, I would be happy to...
Shall I...?
Let me know whether you would like me to…
I will...
I will investigate the matter.
I will look into the matter.
I will contact you shortly.
I will get back to you soon.


2.7 Conclusion

Thanks for your time.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Thanks for your patience.
I am looking forward to...
I am looking forward to hearing from you soon
Please give my regards to...
Thank you for your help.
Thanks again for...
Thank you (in advance) for your help.
Do not hesitate to contact us again if you require any further information.
Please let me know if you need anything else.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
We look forward to receiving your reply.
We would like to express our gratitude for all your help in this matter.


2.8 Signature

British people and some other Westerners end their email more informally with “cheers.” One doesn’t usually use “regards” unless you know the person fairly well but the relationship is still on fairly formal terms (less commonly, “best regards”). “Best wishes” is sometimes used. If in doubt, end your email with “thanks,” “thank you” or (more formally) “sincerely.” Then sign your name on the next line. In more informal emails, Westerners may simply sign their names without a final salutation.

More formal:
Yours sincerely,
Sincerely,
Sincerely yours,
Regards,
Less formal:
All the best,
Take care,
Best wishes,
Good luck,