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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,



Language level

Intermediate: B1
Pre-intermediate: A2



please i would like to have some practice on essay writing.

Hello reubenthomas,

There are many different kinds of essay so it's hard to give specific advice. If you are think of academic essays then you might find of section on academic writing helpful - you can find it here and the pages on essay writing are here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

good morning from Albania
please can help me where can I send an e-mail to someone?

Hello Arditi,

If you have a question about the information on our pages then the comments section is the place to post it. If you want to contact us about the site because you have a problem with its functionality, for example, then there is a 'Contact us' link at the bottom of each page. If you want to send an email to another user then I'm afraid this is something we do not organise for data protection/privacy reasons.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

It's very helpful thank you very much.
I need some practice what i do please, if you can make place for do more conversation or discussion.
please reply

That's helpful for me to practice writing English. Thanks!

this was very helpful. thank you

This is first time to I am writing to learnenglish team. The first thing I want to say
"Thank you for this lesson" .But I think that you should to have a sound of lesson.
I am not excellent in english but I will try.