English being the international language, you will, no doubt, have to write many emails in English, especially at work. To grab attention, it’s imperative to be succinct, short, and clear, and not let on that you struggle with English, or you run the risk of your interlocuteur not replying. But how exactly is an email structured and what form of English to employ?
An e-mail in English always begins with a formal greeting. If you already maintain a relationship with the recipient, you can greet them by their first name, for example, “Dear John”. If you have not already met your interlocuteur, to play it safe, it is advised to address them by their surname. For example “Dear Mr Smith”. If you don’t have the specific email address of the person you want to contact, and you using in info@ email, you should title your email “To the Attention of Head of X”, and your initial greeting should be ‘Dear Sir/Madam.’
2: Message Subject
To address the topic that you are writing about, you can use one of many generic neutral phrases, for example, “I am writing in reference to / with regard to / on behalf of…”.
If you are looking for information, you should express yourself in a formal, polite manner, using the conditional tense. For example, “I would like to inquire about…” “I would like to ask about…”
To deliver any type of information you should begin your message with: “I am writing to let you know/to inform you that,’ ‘I am writing to let you know that’
If you are making a request; use the conditional tense, for example, “I would be grateful if you could…”
Finally, if your email is a response to a previous message, specify it quickly: In response to your request”: “Referring to your request for information”.
As a rule, the shorter your message is, the better written and more effective it will be (and there is a lower probability you will bore the recipient!) Get to your point quickly, and include the possibility to dive deeper, with an attached document or a website. For example, ‘Please find the document attached for more information,’ or ‘Here is a link to our website for further detail.’
There are many ways to sign off an email in English. If you don’t know the recipient, you should use‘ Yours sincerely,’ or ‘Regards.’ If you do know the recipient, but you maintain a formal business relationship with them, you can use a warmer phrase such as ‘Best wishes,’ ‘Best’ or ‘Best Regards.’ Finally, if you have a friendly relationship with the person you are speaking with, you can end it as ‘Looking forward to hearing from you,’ ‘Have a great week,’ or ‘Have a great weekend.’