Conducting business correspondence in English is an essential skill that you will have to master if you work for a foreign company or communicate with foreign partners. This skill will also come in handy when entering a foreign university. Writing letters does not require real English conversation practice, read more here; you need to remember that it requires only one thing – knowing the rules.
Most business letters follow a template that we are going to show you in the article. Don’t be afraid to use clichés and standard phrases: writing this kind of letter is a sign of good manners, respect for the addressee, and a decent education. It is better to follow this structure in all the business letters, so the person you speak with understands that you are an educated person:
- Main part
How to Begin
The beginning of the letter means more than you think. The wrong greeting can make you look bad or even cost you the meeting with the person, for example, emails, when applying for a job.
- Dear Ms. Roberts,
When you don’t know the gender or the name is complex (for example, a person of a different nationality, and it is not clear where the name is and where the surname is), contact her by full name:
- Dear Terry Jones,
Use Hi / Hello + name If the letter is less formal. It’s simple, friendly, and straightforward. Knowing the other person’s name is essential: people appreciate it when you call them by name. This way, you can show that you are talking to them. Starting an email with a simple Hello may give the recipient the impression that you are sending the same email in bulk, and that is bad manners that your English tutor would never tell you to do.
How to Introduce Yourself
You need to introduce yourself or remind the addressee who you are if you talked before right after the greeting. It may not mean anything to the interlocutor if your name and surname are indicated in the “From whom” column.
- I am Hanna from Samsung. We met at the Samsung event last week.
- Thank you for contacting us. Thank you for contacting us.
- Thank you for your prompt reply. Thank you for your quick response.
- Thanks for getting back to me. Thank you for answering me.
Body of the Letter
Bring the interlocutor up to date and describe your problem, request, or proposal in the body of the letter. Below we have given specific situations and examples of phrases that can be used for business correspondence.
- I am writing to inform you / ensure / request / inquire about.
Update on the status of a project or task
- I’m writing to let you know about it.- I am writing to you to inform you about.
- Could you tell me if you can send it…?
Agreeing on plans
- Because of…, we will have to wait/cancel/reschedule our appointment.
We are asking for clarifications and clarifications.
- I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean. Could you please provide more details?
- I’m afraid I didn’t understand what you meant by / could you give more information?
Breaking Bad News
- We regret to inform you of that / We regret to inform you.
- Unfortunately, we cannot / we are unable to / unfortunately, we cannot.
- I’m afraid it would not be possible / I’m afraid this is impossible.
Be sure to explain the reason for the refusal. For example:
- It’s against company policy / This is against the policy of our company.
And if you want to write a less formal disclaimer and show that you did your best to help the person, use the following phrases:
- Despite my best efforts / Despite my best efforts.
Breaking Good News
It is best to avoid emotional coloring in business correspondence, even when delivering the good news. Do without a bunch of exclamation marks and emoticons.
- We are pleased to announce that / We are pleased to announce that.
- You will be happy to learn that / You will be pleased to know that.
- I am delighted to inform you that / I am pleased to inform you that.
- I am pleased to announce / I am happy to announce.
- I take pleasure in / I would like to.
- We are incredibly sorry / We are sorry about that.
Writing a complaint
Try to avoid using too expressive words when you want to express your dissatisfaction with a situation or make a complaint:
- I’m afraid I was not completely / fully satisfied with / I’m afraid I was not completely satisfied.
- Unfortunately, that was not what I expected / Unfortunately, I did not expect this.
- I’m afraid I was not happy with it / I’m afraid I was not too fond of it.
Please describe the problem in detail and provide details so that the addressee can find his bearings faster and can provide you with a decent answer.
Attach files and provide links to documents
Need to send attachments or additional information? There are some examples here of how to do it:
- I’m sending you a file as a pdf file / I am sending you a file in pdf format.
- I’ve attached a file for your review/approval / I am attaching the file for your review/approval.
Ending Of the Letter
We suggest the interlocutor contact for additional information:
- If we can help you, let us know.
Sometimes the addressee needs to be rushed because the deadline is already soon or entirely passed, and the answer is late. This case is complicated, so choose another proper sentence to show that.
Farewell Of the Letter
Please say goodbye. In business letters, you can’t just send Bye! or See you later! There are some great options on how to finish a formal and informal letter.
- Best / Kind / Warm regards – Best / Kind / Warm Regards
- Best wishes – Informal way to say goodbye.
Business letters show your respect for the person you are talking to. The better it is structured, the better your letter will look, and the more significant effect. Don’t rush and revise the letter before sending it!