Writing Great Emails

Today’s

Vocabulary

(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.

Today’s

Questions

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

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

________________________

En-velop_bleu

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.

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

A, C, B

——————————————

You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails

Today’s

Vocabulary

(1) To be in touch: To be in contact

I like to stay in touch with my old college friends. We meet once a year.

(2) Reference Letter: A letter that says someone is good for a job (or other position)

I’ll need two reference letters if I want to apply to that college.

(3) To be set: To be ready to go

Just give me a minute. I’ll go to the bathroom. Then I’ll be set.

Today’s

Questions

1. What’s Step 1 in writing a request letter?

a. Show that you care

b. Ask for your request

c. Talk about yourself

2. Why is it OK to ask quickly?

a. You’re very busy

b. Everyone has done it

c. It’s very important

3. Why should you talk about yourself?

a. Otherwise they’ll reject you

b. You have to be polite

c. The person wants to know

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

________________________

En-velop_bleu

By Jeremy Schaar

Here’s a situation: You need a reference for a new job. Someone to say that you’re a good hire. And, luckily, you have the perfect reference. The only problem is you haven’t spoken to them in a while. What can you do?

You have to send them an email, but how? Let’s think about it. Today, I’m going to share with you how to write an email where you get back in touch with someone. You’ll learn a few rules and some good expressions to use.

OK, so the first you want to do is show an interest in them as a person. Here are some ways to start this email:

Step 1: Show That You Care

You can say: “How have you been?” or “How has everything been with […]”

These are great. Often it’s all you need. But if you need a bit more, you can add: “It’s been a long time right? I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch.”

Step 2: Make Your Request

“Actually, the reason I’m writing is to ask you to […]”

You can ask them what you want in Step 2. It’s OK. It might feel a bit weird, but there’s no need to wait. It’s OK. We’ve all been in this situation. Don’t worry about it.

You might say “…ask you to be a reference. You don’t need to do anything, but could I get your phone number in case they want to call?”

OR

“…ask you to write a letter of reference for me. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’ve just applied for a job as a […] and you’d really be helping me a lot.”

Or whatever else your request is.

Step 3: Talk About Yourself Here’s where you can share a little bit about yourself. You can say:

“As for me, I’ve recently […]”

OR

In other news, I’m […]

And you can share a little about yourself. You do this because it is your friend and they’re probably interested in you.

Step 1: Show That You Care Step 2: Make Your Request Step 3: Talk About Yourself

And you’re all set!

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

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

A, B, C

——————————————

You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails

Watch

On YouTube

YouTubeLink

Today’s

Vocabulary

(1) Dear: A common word to start an email.

Dear Kevin, How have you been?

(2) Greetings from: A common way to start an email to a group of unknown people.

Greetings from our team, We would like to welcome you…

(3) Tone: The emotional feeling of writing.

Start off by asking about his kids. That’ll create a happy tone.

Today’s

Questions

1. Why does Amazon start their email with “Hello”?

a. They want to be friendly and casual.

b. They want to be in charge and businesslike.

c. They want to be friendly with a group they don’t know.

2. Why does a boss start an email with just a name?

a. He wants to be friendly and casual.

b. He wants to be in charge and businesslike.

c. He wants to be friendly with a group they don’t know.

3. Why might a company start a mass email with “Greetings from…”?

a. They want to be friendly and casual.

b. They want to be in charge and businesslike.

c. They want to be friendly with a group they don’t know.

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

________________________

En-velop_bleu

By Jeremy Schaar

The past two weeks we’ve been looking at email greetings. Let’s review the greetings we’ve seen.

  • Dear is the most popular greeting and is great for most situations.
  • Dearest is good to use with someone you love. You won’t use it much in business situations, but it’s possible with an old colleague or someone who was really helpful.
  • You can use “Just A Name” for emails when you want to be more direct.
  • Hello, hey, and hi are all good and give your email a casual, friendly tone.
  • Sometimes you won’t use any greeting at all. “Nothing At All” is good for emails that are more like chatting. Or it’s possible for situations where you don’t know the person’s name or you’re writing to a large group.
  • Greetings from is a friendlier way to begin an email if you don’t know the person’s name or you’re writing to a large group.

OK. Enough review, let’s look at some real life examples and how they sound.

The first example is from Amazon.com. I returned some items and here’s how they began their email.

“Hello,

We’re writing to let you know we processed your refund of…”

Amazon begins the email with just “Hello”. This creates a friendly feeling. They don’t include my name because it’s just a form letter and they don’t know who I am. Still, it’s friendly and casual, just like Amazon.

The second example is from an old boss of mine. He wrote:

“Jeremy,

Great job working on this. You…”

He was my boss and we were talking about work, so he didn’t use dear or anything at all, just my name. It made him seem in charge, like he’s the boss so he doesn’t need to greet me in a special way. This is probably a good thing, but notice that it’s very businesslike.

Here’s a third example:

“Greetings from FelixPlus,

You’ve been chosen as one of…”

This is from a company that wanted me to try their product. They didn’t know my name because I’m on a big list, but the “greetings from” sounds nice and friendly. I like it as an opening.

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

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

A, B, C

——————————————

You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails

Watch

On YouTube

YouTubeLink

Today’s

Vocabulary

(1) Dear: Kind or Important

Dear Neighbor, Please stop using my yard as your dog’s bathroom. Thanks. -Jeremy

(2) Dearest: Very important, loved

Dearest John, I cannot thank you enough for staying late to finish the presentation. You saved me.

(3) Direct: Telling exactly, without politeness, not trying to hide meaning

Stop being nice. Tell him directly that she has to improve or find another job.

Today’s

Questions

1. Who can you use dear with when writing an email?

a. A family member or good friend.

b. Everyone.

c. Everyone but an enemy.

2. Who can you use dearest with when writing an email?

a. Everyone.

b. Someone who is very important to you.

c. Someone you want to do you a favor.

3. Why might you not use any greeting?

a. It’s the first email to the person.

b. You’re angry.

c. You’re writing to your boss.

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

________________________

En-velop_bleu

By Jeremy Schaar

Every email begins with a greeting. So, for the first email lesson, let’s look at a few greetings.

#1 Dear

Dear is the most popular way to begin an email in English. We can actually use the word dear in many different ways. Dictionary.com gives 15 definitions! But they’re all good things. We use dear to mean kind or important or loved. When we say that someone is a “dear friend”, it means that the person is a very good friend.

But with emails (or letters) we never think of these things. Even if you wrote an email to an enemy, you could start with dear.

Dear is so popular that many people use it with every email that they write. It’s totally OK to do this. Should you do this? Well, there are other options.

#2 Dearest

Sometimes a person is very important to you. Maybe you love them. Maybe they’re a very good friend. Maybe you’ve known them for a very long time. Or maybe they did something very nice for you. If you want them to know this right away, you can use dearest.

In a business situation, you probably won’t use dearest very often. It makes people think of love and how often do you love someone you work with? Still, it is possible. For example, maybe you have been working with someone for a long time and have become very good friends. Or maybe someone really helped you and you want them to know how thankful you are.

#3 Just their name

On the other hand, sometimes you don’t want to be friendly at all. Instead, you want to be very direct. Here are some situations where you might want to be direct.

  • You’re the boss and you want to be businesslike
  • You’re angry with the person
  • You’ve already written several emails back and forth. Dear is strange because you’ve already used it.

In these cases, you don’t want to use anything but the person’s name. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just very direct.

Next week, we’ll look at some more greetings. Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

B, B, B

——————————————

You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Learn English–British Council

Website Review: Learn English—British Council

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/

In Short: The best site on the internet for learning English. It’s multilevel. It’s really big. It’s really helpful.

First: Low-level, intermediate-level, and high-level students will all find great stuff.

Second: The site is really big. You can watch and listen. You can read and write. You can practice grammar. You can play games. You can make friends.

Third: The activities are helpful, interesting, and modern. The site is easy to use and looks great.

For Students: Here are three things you might really like on the site. For listening, Big City, Small World is great. Studying for the IELTS? Check out this section. Or, you might join the virtual community Second Life so you can speak and listen to real people in English all the time.

For Teachers: Send your students to the site and have them write their own reviews. Ask them to answer three questions: (1) What can you listen to on this site? Describe it. (2) Is this a good site? Why/Why not? (3) Would you recommend it to a friend? Why/Why not?

« Previous Entries Next Entries »