E-mails are instant and easy to access, and the words you choose should also be easy to understand quickly. In business, e-mails have replaced letters in much communication. The style is similar, but there are some differences.
Here we will offer you some ideas on how to start a business e-mail, so this week E is for expressions at the beginning.
"Dear Sir/Madam" is the most formal way to start an e-mail to someone whose name you don't know. If you do know the name, "Dear Mr Cheung" will probably be the most formal opening you need. When you are writing to someone for the first time, your opening sentence could be, "I am sending you this e-mail to inquire if ... " If you are replying to an e-mail, you could start with, "Thank you for your (recent) e-mail. I am sorry for the delay in replying to you, but I am pleased to inform you ... "
It's possible to be less formal but still polite. When writing to a colleague or a client who you have had a long working relationship with, you don't need to start with "Dear" because that is too distant and unnecessarily formal. You can simply start with their name: "Ms Chan, thanks for your e-mail".
The more often you e-mail someone or the better you know them, the shorter the e-mails will become. So it's typical to start an e-mail to a colleague or contact you know well as follows: "Got your e-mail yesterday, thanks." Or "Hello Elaine, I'm glad to hear you got our order and will be able to make the delivery on time".
There is a fairly strict and standard way to end a business letter but when it comes to closing an e-mail, things are a little different. It's unusual to end a business e-mail with "Yours faithfully" or "Yours truly". Unusual but not wrong - it's just that somehow they seem too formal and inappropriate.
If you want a reply from the person you are writing to, then the best and most universally acceptable sentences to use are either, "I look forward to hearing from you soon", or "I hope to hear back from you within the next few days". You can easily exchange "I" for "We".
But a word of warning, don't alter this wording. Don't be tempted to write something like, "I am hoping to hear back from you very soon." That is wrong, grammatically and in a business sense.
And I have seen some people write things like, "I am looking forward to hearing from you soon," or "we are looking forward to your quick reply." They are also both wrong.
Once you have written that sentence, it is easy to ruin the whole effect of the e-mail by using the wrong closing words. Choose them carefully. So for example, if it's an e-mail to a colleague you communicate with regularly and you are on first name terms, then after a sentence such as "I hope to hear from you in the next few days", all you have to write is your name.
On the other hand, if you are writing to a client or colleague who you don't know well, then I would recommend that you also include a line such as "Best regards" or "With best wishes". And when you don't know the person, my advice is to write your first and surname at the very end.