Writing emails in English isn't easy especially for non-native English speakers, but it is an essential skill that can benefit you both personally and professionally.
So, how to write emails in English? First of all, you need to learn many rules and conventions of email English. You must familiarize yourself with the English email format including English email greetings and closing phrases. When you know how to start and end an email in English, you must have the common email phrases English in your back pocket and understand the English email etiquette in order to always come off as polite and professional.
To help you improve your email writing skills in English further we will provide you with English email examples covering how to write formal, professional, and informal email in English language. This in-depth guide on email writing will be topped off by an example how Flowrite's AI writing tool can assist you to deliver your message effectively with grammatically correct, perfect English.
How to write emails in English
English email format
English language emails are what academics describe as a "highly prescriptive form of written communication." Simply put, there are strong and established rules dictating the format of English language emails.
Most of these rules emerged in the Victorian age, so it's no surprise that the English language email format closely follows that of a formal letter. Typically an English language email has five elements:
- Subject Line
- Formal or informal greeting
- Body copy
- Closing phrase
This article walks you through each part and provides examples of email structures that illustrate our points. By the end, you should understand how to format emails in English.
Why should I format my emails?
From the outside, the English email letter format may seem strange. Still, once you understand the rules, it makes creating effective emails simpler and quicker for everyone, as this study into letter-writing found.
But why bother formatting emails in English? Here are five reasons:
- It's professional: The rules and conventions of formal email English are accepted professional practice. While you're free to write however you want, your choice of email style, tone of voice, and format convey a message to the recipient.
- It's more effective: Every email should have a purpose, in most cases, to elicit an action. Using the established English-language format provides a simple and clear structure to convey your message that's likely to get the response or the result you want.
- It reduces stress and anxiety: "If a user can understand a letter, they're less likely to get in touch to ask questions via another channel and more likely to do the thing the letter is asking them to do," says the UK Government. Clearly stating what you want and why means the reader doesn't need to fill gaps or make assumptions.
- It's easier: Understanding how to format English language emails makes writing them more manageable. There's no stress worrying about how to address someone or sign-off; it's already decided for you. It leaves you time to focus on the core of your message.
- It's quicker: Once you understand the fundamental building blocks of a formal email, writing them is easy and quick. This could save you hours if you're anything like the average worker who spends half their working day writing emails. Tools such as Flowrite can save you even more time, creating perfectly formatted, free-flowing emails that get results in seconds.
Understanding how to format an English language email provides the fundamental basis for all correspondence. But, of course, you're free to change, adapt or ignore any part of this, should the situation or circumstances demand it.
Language changes and evolves, giving you the freedom and flexibility to shape correspondence for each audience. For example, language "laws" aren't set in stone, say academics. Instead, readers want to be able to access information quickly, which has "impacted the structure and the function of emails," researchers have said. Essentially, if there's a better way to communicate your message than sticking to the rules, then feel free to use it.
How to start an email in English
The traditional way to start an email in English is by using the word 'Dear'. In the past, you would be advised to use a title (Mr, Mrs, etc.) in the past, but things have moved on. Gendered terms such as Mr and Mrs can now cause offence, so we need to find another way of introducing ourselves to email recipients.
The different email greetings in English depend on whether you are addressing an individual you know, a person you don't know, or a collective (an organization, team, or anonymous email address, for example).
Here are some of the ways to write formal email greetings in English.
If you know a person's full name, you should use it. So, instead of "Dear Mrs. Roberts", you would write:
- Dear Sarah Roberts
Many old formal English email writing blogs and articles suggest using "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam" if you don't know the person you're writing to. However, we disagree. This is outdated and unnecessary. If you can't find a person's full name (LinkedIn is your friend here), find another way to address them.
Here are a few examples of addressing a person who's name you don't know:
- Dear Marketing Manager
- Dear Team Leader
If you're addressing a group, find a way of engaging them that's suitable, such as:
- Dear Team
- Dear Marketing Directorate
- Dear Complaints Team
Lots of people wonder whether you can use 'Hi' as a greeting in a formal email, and you can. If you know the person or aren't writing in a formal context or capacity, it's your choice.
The body of an email is where you explain what the message is all about. There are no hard and fast rules because each email is slightly different. Still, there is a natural flow for information in a formal English email:
- Introduce yourself – a name, job title, and organization are pretty much essential
- Explain why you are emailing – describe why are you contacting someone
- Say what you want – if you want something in return (a response, document, image, etc.), then ask for it
- Next steps – describe what happens now, providing a timeframe. If you're expecting a reply, be clear when you expect one. Never leave your reader confused
It's easier to see this on the page, so be sure to check out the examples below to see how we've used this format to create effective English-language emails.
English email closing phrases
The type of closing phrase you use in an English language email depends on whether you're writing a formal or an informal email. Let's look at both types of email closing messages below.
How to end a formal email in English
There are only two things you need to know about finishing a formal email in English:
- If you know the person's name, you use the ending "Yours sincerely".
- If you don't know the person (or are writing to an organization or collective email address), you use "yours faithfully".
How to end an informal email in English
By their very nature, informal emails aren't governed by rules, so you're free to write whatever you want. Nevertheless, some familiar phrases that you may find are commonly used when ending informal email messages.
Some email sign-offs you may choose to use include:
- Kind regards
- Best regards
- I look forward to hearing from you
- Please contact me for additional help
A professional email signature provides the essential information a reader needs to know about you, including:
- Your name
- Job title
- Contact details
Every English email signature should include the following, but you have the freedom to add more, including:
- Details of qualifications
- Chosen pronouns
- Social media links
Common English email phrases
You could write a whole book on English language email phrases, but we need to keep things brief for the purposes of this blog (and to stop you from getting bored). Here are some helpful business English phrases that you may want to include in your English language emails:
- I am writing to tell you about
- I'm contacting you to confirm that
- This is just a short email to explain that
- Just a quick reminder that
- This email is to let you know that
- I'm getting back in touch with you with some additional information
- Attached is the information you requested
- I'd welcome your thoughts on
There are some informal email English phrases that you may read and choose to use yourself:
- Great to catch up
- I hope you had a great weekend
- I hope you are well
- I hope all is well with you
- It's lovely to hear from you
- I was delighted to receive your message
English email etiquette
The formal rules of English language rules dictate how an email should be structured, including greetings, the flow of information, and suitable sign-offs. Email etiquette describes the unwritten rules that help you craft and shape better messages.
Here are 10 email etiquette rules and tips that all English email writers need to know.
- Write a professional subject line – Provide as much information you can about your message in the subject line
- Keep messages short and to the point – Sharpen your messages and remove information that isn't essential
- Don't' try to be funny – Jokes are acceptable among friends, but humor doesn't always travel way, so don't bother
- Limit caps – Limit the number of capitals you use and write in sentence case where possible
- Avoid exclamation marks – Exclamation marks are popular on social media but should be used sparingly in formal and informal English-language emails
- Respect cultural differences – When writing to anyone, be respectful of cultural differences in your messages
- Avoid gendered terms – It's not suitable anymore to use terms such as Mr, Mrs, and Ms, so avoid them
- Use standards fonts – Don't use a crazy or confusing font; stick to professional fonts for all messages
- Always proof every message – Check your messages before sending them (and check again to be sure!)
- Limit attachment sizes – Email inboxes can become cluttered, and large email attachments won't help, so don't send large files
Following email etiquette can be a challenge for us all, which is why we've created a detailed guide to some of the unwritten rules that govern English-language emails.
Grammar rules for email writing
The English language is governed by grammar rules that can be confusing for everyone at times. While you don't need to have a fluent grasp of the English language to write effective emails, understanding the basics is essential.
Here are 10 things you need to write better English-language emails:
- Always use capital letters for names
- Follow the email format outlined above
- Start sentences with a capital letter, break up sentences with commas, and end every sentence with a full stop
- Keep sentences short
- Every sentence should have a subject (John), verb (reads) object (books)
- Use the active voice to engage the reader. Tools such as Flowrite can help you engage users directly and clearly
- Don't use emoticons
- Break up lists into bullet points to make information easy for readers to understand
- Explain acronyms when you use them
- Never use swear words
English email examples
We've provided a comprehensive guide on how to structure and write effective emails in English. Now, let's put some of these rules into practice and illustrate them with some examples of how to write a formal email in English, a professional email in English, and an informal email in English.
How to write a formal email in English
We've covered the fundamentals of writing a formal email in English above; here's how it works. In this English language email example, we're requesting products from individuals and businesses we already know.
How to write a professional email in English
In business, time is money, so the perfect professional email in English is short, clear, and straight to the point. So here's an example of how to write a professional email in English.
How to write an informal email in English
When writing an informal email, you're not as constrained by the rules and can be freer with how you communicate and correspond. So here's an example of a warm and friendly email to someone you know.
Improving your email writing skills in English
The best way to learn how to write English language emails is to read (and write) as many emails as possible. Check out samples online, sign-up to mailing lists, or read back through your inbox to identify English email examples you like.
To improve your email writing skills in English, one great approach is to keep a list of phrases you like and want to use. Over time, you'll find this helps you understand the building blocks of perfect English emails and improves your vocabulary as well as grammar skills.You can also build a bank of email templates that you can use to save time when writing emails in English language. This resource can help you identify successful (and unsuccessful) emails, helping you develop your own style of writing formal email English.
Lastly, we must tooth our own horn. Flowrite's blog features dozens and dozens of articles on how to write formal and professional emails in English. They cover all the aspects of daily communication needed in various jobs and can help you become more productive at work and your personal life.
However, that not all. Our AI writing assistant can help you to communicate with confidence by turning short instruction into ready-to-send emails in perfect English. If you don't believe us, check out the example of Flowrite in action below. As you can see it can be as easy as click of a button.
We hope that this blog post has helped you to learn how to write emails in English. If you found it helpful, we suggest that you bookmark this page to refresh your memory in case you ever have doubts about grammar, etiquette, phrases or format of email English. To relief yourself from any doubts make sure to try Flowrite and start to supercharge your daily communications.
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