Tips to improve your email writing in English

Tips to improve your email writing in English

Dear Ms Client

I often hear my clients say “well, my email writing is OK, because I have more time to think about the right words, (than when on the phone or speaking), or emails are OK because I can put the mail into a translation software programme.   Much better to learn how to write good emails, I think.

The first comment means that they take a lot of work time putting an email together and the second means that they often end up with totally unsatisfactory wording and they have nobody to proofread it.  Translation software is much much better than it was, but it still makes mistakes or gets the wrong end of the stick when words have more than one meaning, which is quite often!

When I teach business writing to my clients, I have various ways of repeating common phrases used in emails (or letters) on the basis that if you know some of these, then the opening and closing of a mail is easy.

Opening phrases such as:

  1. a) Thank you for your letter of 20 April about ……
  2. b) Further to our meeting last week, we are writing to ……

and endings such as:

  1. c) We look forward to hearing from you (not “to hear” from you!).
  2. d) We await your early reply.

 can be learnt.

I often feel I am teaching people how to write correspondence generally.  People these days don’t seem to know what a paragraph is and their mails are full of separate sentences with a double space in between?  Paragraphs are usually made up of 2/3 sentences about the same subject.  Or at least they were when I was at school!  Similarly, these short sentences “have no flow” – they are not joined together, so joining words need to be learnt.  Take the following:

“I write to arrange a meeting on 20 May.  Please let me know if this is OK”

 instead of:

“I am writing to arrange a meeting on Thursday 20 May and would appreciate it if you could let us know if this suits you.”

Commas are a problem between our two languages as the German comma and the English comma beg to differ on many occasions.  So teaching punctuation is important and is another important aspect I include in writing practice.

There used to be proper opening salutations and closures, but now it seems “Hi”, “Good Morning” and “Cheers” or “Bye” are acceptable.  What happened to “Dear Mr Smith” or “Dear John” and “Best wishes” or “Yours sincerely”  ?

Some of my clients tell me they have arranged training in German writing skills as they are so concerned about the standard.  Pledger Business English Training can certainly solve your writing problems in the English language!

Kind regards.

Pat Pledger

Pledger Business English Training

23 April 2020