Improve your business English writing with this study of the most important grammatical structures, tenses and phrases for writing emails for business.
The slides look at phrases and grammar for these functions:
Opening Small Talk (informal emails)
Referring to Previous Contact
Referring to Attachments
Closing Small Talk (informal emails)
Positive Closing Statements
The Grammar of Business EmailsPresented by www.mybusinessenglish.comTools for Successful BusinessCommunication in EnglishPresented by www.mybusinessenglish.com
Outline• Opening Small Talk (informal emails)• Referring to Previous Contact• Purpose Statements• Making Requests• Referring to Attachments• Promising Action• Closing Small Talk (informal emails)• Positive Closing Statements
Opening Small Talkinformal style• How was the meeting?• How are you?• How are you doing/going?• How’s it going?past simple to askabout the pastpresent simple to askabout the reader’swell-beingpresent continuousused in informal styleto ask about thereader’s well-being
Referring to Previous Contactformal style• Further to our conversation of 10 May,...• With reference to your letter of 24 January,...• Thank you for your letter of 24 January.• It was a pleasure to have met you at the conference last week.prepositionalphrases + commausually followed bythe purpose (seenext slide)past simple for referring topast (ﬁnished) eventsThank you is a positive andclear way of referring toprevious contact.It is short for I thank you for...
Purpose Statements• I am writing to +V• I would like to +V• Just a short email to +V• I was wondering if you + pastPurpose statements show why you are writing.to + inﬁnitive (to + verb) is often used to state purposepresent continuous describingaction in progresswould like to puts focus onyour wishes/wantsJust a short email shortened frompresent simple statement of fact -This is a short email...In informal emails, just makes thepurpose of the email sound smallerand less work for the reader....for a request or enquiryemail.The past tense was makesthe purpose/request moredistant, tentative and polite.
Requests• Could you please +V?• I would be grateful if you could/would +V?• I was wondering if you could/would +V• Please +V (imperative)Requests often use themodal verbs could andwould because theysound more polite thancan and will.The past form waswondering also makesthe request more polite.(Using the past tense in arequest creates time distancewhich makes the request moretentative and diplomatic, whichmakes it more polite.)Warning!The imperative (main verb with no subject) sounds morelike an order or instruction. Please makes it more polite, butdo not use it by itself (in an email with only one request):use it in a series of requests, and use it with the smallestrequest.
Referring to Attachments• I have attached...• Please ﬁnd attached...• Attached you will ﬁnd...Present perfect simplehave/has +V3past action with presenteffectImperative (main verb)Here, combined with pleasethe often order-likeimperative is polite as youare informing, not requesting.Future tense for a statementof future fact with attached(adj) at the start of thesentence for emphasis.
Promising Action• I will +V• Will do.will + verbWill + verb is used to say what you willdo after this emailWill do.Will do is used to reply quickly torequest emails in informal style.Hi CraigCould you send me theDecember balance sheetplease?RegardsHarrietHi HarrietWill do.RegardsCraig
Closing Small TalkPositive future statements - informal style• Good luck with the presentation.• Enjoy your day off. EllipsisHere we are generally leavingout (omitting) the subject I andverbs such as hope and wish.I wish you good luck...I hope you have good luck...I hope you enjoy...
Positive Closing Statements• I look forward to hearing from you.• I am looking forward to seeing you.Present continuous sounds warmer andmore friendly.Use the contraction I’m looking... ininformal and some neutral styles.Present simple sounds moreformal Warning!CommonErrorI look forward tohear from you.Use theV+ing ora noun afterI look forward to...