Unit 4: Starting and finishing emails

Unit 4: Starting and finishing emails

How should you begin and finish an email message to someone you don't know? Find out here!

Starting and finishing emails

Here are some important points to consider when starting and finishing an email.

Formal or informal?

We write a formal email when we want to be polite, or when we do not know the reader very well. A lot of work emails are formal. We write informal emails when we want to be friendly, or when we know the reader well. A lot of social emails are informal. Here are some examples of formal and informal messages:

Formal Informal
An email to a customer 
A job application
An email to your manager
A complaint to a shop
An email from one company to another company

A birthday greeting to a colleague
An email to a colleague who is also a good friend
A social invitation to a friend at your workplace
An email with a link to a funny YouTube clip
A message to a friend on a social networking site

Before you start writing an email, decide if you want to write a formal email or an informal one.

Layout and punctuation

Starting an email: We normally write a comma after the opening phrase. We start a new line after the name of the person we’re writing to.

Finishing an email: We normally write a comma after the closing phrase. We start a new line to write our name at the end.

Formal Informal

Dear Mr Piper,
I am writing to thank you for all your help.
I look forward to seeing you next week.
With best wishes,
John Smith

Hi Tim,
Many thanks for your help.
See you next week.

Phrases for starting and finishing

Here are some phrases which we use for starting and finishing emails. We use these in formal and informal emails:

Starting phrases Dear Tim,
Good morning Tim,
Ending phrases Regards,
With best wishes,
With many thanks and best wishes,

You also need to know which phrases to use only in a formal email or an informal one:

  Formal Informal
Starting phrases

Dear Mr Piper,
Dear Sir or Madam,

Hi Tim,
Hi there Tim,
Morning/Afternoon/Evening Tim,
Hello again Tim,
Ending phrases Yours sincerely,
Yours faithfully,
Yours truly,
Bye for now,
See you soon,
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Submitted by englishman332 on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 19:13

> I look forward to hearing from you soon Doesn't sound natural to me or just too scripted maybe I prefer "I look forward to your reply" or something similar

Hello englishman332,

Both phrases are fine. 'I look forward to hearing from you soon' is more formal but it is quite normal.

There are variants for other situations:

I look forward to hearing from / seeing / speaking to / meeting / talking to you.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Menglan on Thu, 22/11/2018 - 06:23

I am writing to ...
Profile picture for user Hosam Mohamed

Submitted by Hosam Mohamed on Sun, 28/10/2018 - 21:16

sorry, is it: "Here are some phrase.." or "Here are some phrases.."? (under title "Phrases for starting and finishing")

Hello attar_adv,

The sentence should read 'Here are some phrases...'

Thank you for spotting this mistake! We always proofread our material to check for errors and typos, but some inevitably creep through and it is very helpful when observant people spot them for us.


Thanks again,



The LearnEnglish Team

Not at all, Mr. Peter, thank you for your nice words.

Submitted by anie1 on Mon, 10/09/2018 - 22:07

Hello, I would like to ask if the following is correct: If we want to forward an email or an email to someone to a third person can we say. I forward to you the email? Is it correct to use the word forward(here is a verb) and after forward we write to you? Thank you in advance
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 12/09/2018 - 06:28

In reply to by anie1


Hello anie2,

You can use 'forward' as a verb but you need to use 'will' here as you are making an offer or a promise:

I'll forward it to you.



The LearnEnglish Team