Business Emails in English: 5 practical pointers
Writing a business email is often easier than speaking: you don’t have to worry about pronunciation, and you can take time to edit your message. But there are some rules to remember when writing emails. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure that your email makes a good impression.
1. Know your email terms
English email programs use lots of abbreviations, and if you don’t know them, your email asking your boss for a raise might end up going out to the entire office!
“Reply to all” means your email will be sent to everyone who received the originally letter you’re replying too. In the address section of the email, the “cc” (carbon copy) section sends copies of the email to the people you indicate, while the “bcc” section lets you send copies discreetly – the b stands for “blind” (hidden).
If someone asks you to “forward” an email, they mean to send a copy of the email to them using the forward feature, which is sometimes abbreviated as “fw.”
2. Use the Right Greeting
Although opening an e-mail to your friend with “Hey” is fine, its best not to write a potential business partner that way. On the other hand, using extremely formal traditional phrases like “Dear Sir” is increasingly out of date. The best bet is to write “Dear Mr. / Ms.” and then the person’s last name. When you already have a working relationship, it’s fine to just use their first name (e.g. “Dear John”).
3. Keep it Short and Clear
While in some other languages using elaborate and complicated structures shows your intelligence and education, write your English emails in a clear and organized style. Clearly introduce the purpose of your letter in the first paragraph and follow a clear structure in the main paragraphs with good introduction sentences in each. Using words like “first, second, next, and finally” are guides to the reader that you’re making a new point. You don’t have to describe all the details in your email. You can always end the email with a phrase like “If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me,” which invites the reader to ask you for more information.
4. Be polite and tactful
While it’s good to be clear when you’re writing an email asking for something, whether it’s a discount on a shipment of shoes or a job interview, it’s best not to use demanding words like “I want.” “I would like” is more respectful, and “I am interested in” is a good choice if you’re making an initial proposal or still exploring ideas.
5. Always end the email correctly
“I am looking forward to your reply,” “Thank you,” or “Sincerely” are all good ways to leave the reader with a good impression.
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