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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


I am writing to ...

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.

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

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

I would like to ask if the following are correct; If we write a letter or email.
1. If we want to answer an email that someone has sent to us, we say; thank you for your email or thank you for your letter?
2. Is it correct to use the following expression in an email:
Hello, how are you? I hope you are happy and healthy. The sentence I hope you are happy and healthy is it correct to use?
Thank you in advance

Hello anie2,

1. We would use 'email' and not 'letter' here.

2. The sentence is not incorrect in terms of the language but the standard way to say this would be 'I hope you are well'.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. I wrote a formal email and I started it with "Dear Prof. ...." and finished it with "Yours Sincerely,". He replied to me. Now I want to send him a Thank You email. Do I have to start with "Dear Prof. ..." again and finish with something such as "Yours Sincerely." again. or It is enough that I write my thank you massage.

Hello saadat.f,

I would say that beginning with "Dear Professor...' is the safest option here. It really depends upon your relationship, however, and that is something I cannot judge.

Remember that the word is 'message', not 'massage'. A massage is something that can help you if you have problems with your back, for example, but probably not something you get from your professor!



The LearnEnglish Team