Writing Great Emails



(1) Polite: Kind, nice

You should be very polite to her. He’s the boss’s good friend.

(2) Direct: Straight. Without politeness. Saying exactly.

Tell him directly that you’re not happy with the project. You can’t be polite or he won’t understand that you’re serious.

(3) To Take Advantage Of: To use someone or something. (This can be in a good or bad way.)

She took advantage of my kindness and stayed in my house for two months.



1. Why is it important to be polite?

a. It affects how people react to you

b. You want to get a job

c. You want people to be serious

2. How do many languages make polite sentences?

a. They use totally different verbs

b. They add “te”

c. They change the verb

3. How do we make things polite in English?

a. We change the verb

b. We ask questions

c. We use a different verb


Writing Great Emails



By Jeremy Schaar

The difference between polite and impolite can mean everything. If you’re polite, you might get an interview or increase sales. Being impolite might mean keeping the same job or a lost client. On the other hand, sometimes you don’t want to be polite. Being too polite can mean that someone doesn’t take you seriously. They might think they can take advantage of you.

Today, I’ll review some basic ideas about being polite in English. You’ll learn how to be polite and some common expressions you can use in order to be polite. In the next lesson, you’ll learn how to be more direct with someone and some common expressions you can use for being more direct.

In many language, there is a polite form of the verb. That means that the verb changes when you want to be more polite. For example, in Russian, when you want to be more polite you can add “te” to the end of a verb. So, in Russian, the word for “give” is “dai”. For example if you wanted a menu, you could say “dai menu”. But that’s not very polite, so to be more polite, you could say “dai-te menu”. The verb changes and suddenly you’re being polite.

English, unfortunately, doesn’t have a polite form of the verb. But English speakers do want to be polite. So, how do we do it? How do we be polite in English? We ask stupid questions.

Can you give me the menu?

Would you mind giving me the menu?

If it’s not a problem, do you think you could give me the menu?

All three of these are polite. If you think about it carefully, these are strange questions. But we never think about it carefully. Note that in the third example–if it’s not a problem, do you think you could give me the menu–there are actually three things added before give. (If it’s not a problem, do you think, you could.) This actually makes it too polite. You’d probably only use this with someone you were afraid of. But note that by adding more and more before the verb, it becomes more and more polite.

What does this mean for emails? It means that if you have a request, you should put it in the form of a question.

What about “please”? For now, just note that “please” doesn’t automatically make things polite. In two weeks, I’ll explain all about it.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.


Answers To Today’s Questions

A, C, B


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

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