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How to Write a Business English Email

You already know that not all emails are created equally. The writing style you’d use in an email to an old friend, for example, would be different from how you’d write to a university professor or an online shop’s customer support team. 

Knowing what format and writing style to use—and how to use it well—can often be difficult and even intimidating. And, for many people, at the top of the list of most challenging emails is the business email

In this post, we’ll discuss how to write a business email when you need to ask someone to do something for you. 

Let’s get started!

Tips for writing a business English email to make a request

When you write an email to request something from someone, you need to make sure your message is well understood and well received.

1. Keep it clear

This is a good rule for any type of communication, but it’s especially important in business emails. So what does that mean, exactly? Just make sure your sentences aren’t too long and your vocabulary is simple and straightforward—no need to get too fancy! And don’t forget to check your grammar and spelling, or ask someone to check it for you

2. Make it short

To make sure you hold your reader’s attention, you’ll want to keep your email as short as possible. That means only including one main topic per email and sticking to that topic. Your reader might be very busy; don’t make them read any unrelated or unnecessary details.

3. Be polite 

Yes, we’ve told you above to make your email short, but you can still use a polite tone and structure! In some cases, you might be writing to someone with whom it’s okay to use more casual language (a familiar coworker, for example). Other times, casual phrasing may not be appropriate—such as with a new client. Whether your email is casual or formal, it’s always possible and advisable to use a polite tone.

Business English email structure

You now know that your business emails should generally be clear, short, and polite, but how do you write an email like that? One way is by following the RAP framework. This model is ideal for writing emails to ask for something. 

After beginning your email with a polite greeting, you should divide your business email into three parts, according to RAP: reference, action, and polite close. 

  • The reference tells the reader why you are writing to them.  
  • The action tells the reader what you’re requesting/what you would like them to do.
  • Your polite close is where you end your email (politely)/say goodbye.

In the next section, we’ll go over a few phrases you can use in each of these sections. 

Useful phrases for an English business email

Here are some common phrases that you can use to begin each section of your business email. We’ve included a mix of formal and more casual options for you to choose from.

Greeting

  • Dear [name]
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Hello, everyone
  • Hi, team

Reference (the reason you are writing)

  • I am emailing in regards to . . . 
  • In reference to . . . 
  • I’m writing to . . . 
  • I’d like to follow up on . . . 
  • This is just a quick note to . . . 

Action (what you are requesting)

  • Could you please . . . 
  • Would it be possible to . . . 
  • Would you be able to . . . 
  • I would appreciate it if . . . 
  • I was wondering if we could . . .

Polite close

  • I look forward to hearing from you/I look forward to your reply.
  • Thank you for your time. 
  • I hope to hear from you soon.
  • Thanks in advance.
  • Please let me know if you have any questions.
  • Have a great day/evening/week/weekend.
  • Feel free to reach out if you need any further information.

Business English email example

Now that we’ve gone through all the parts of a basic business English email, let’s check out a quick example. 

Dear Mr. Timmons, (Greeting)

I’m writing to follow up on the Zoom call we had yesterday. (Reference) Would it be possible for you to send me the slides you presented? (Action

Thank you for your time. (Polite close)

Mark Caldwell

Business English emails aren’t as hard as you think

Now that you know what goes into writing a business English email, you’re ready to get started! By following the guidelines above and doing some practice, you’ll soon see that writing business emails is easier than you might have thought.

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.