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.
Cheers,
John

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,
Rgds,
Cheers,
Bye for now,
See you soon,

 

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Submitted by Olga_Chernyav on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 12:13

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convenient format of tasks

Submitted by IlyaK on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 20:27

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A clear example of building an email template

Submitted by Anacris on Mon, 15/02/2021 - 08:08

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february 16Th 2018 Dear sir In reference to your complaint received on 7th of July where you communicate the problem with your... We are very grateful to you for letting us know these details. So that, we can identity those aspects to be improved. We also apologise for the inconvenience you have suffered We can either refund your Money or exchange it for another one ( the faulty ...) Someone from our company will be contacting you within three Days to let you know we plan to resolve this issue, and hopefully regain your confidence in our company. On behalf of our company My apologies for any inconvenience caused Yours sincerely Name Customer service director

Submitted by Helen BP on Wed, 10/02/2021 - 16:39

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With regards to ending a formal email where you do not know the name of the person you're writing to, is "Yours faithfully" the only option? I thought it was, but my schooling was many moons ago. Someone pointed out that this is an archaic form, and "Yours sincerely" or "With kind regards" are possible too. Is there a definitive guide I can consult on this? I am a teacher and would hate to give my students wrong information.

Hello Helen BP,

The traditional rule - my time in school was a few decades ago as well - was as you suggest: Yours sincerely  (or just Sincerely) if we know the name; Yours faithfully (or just Faithfully) if we do not. However, many other forms are used today, such as Best Regards and Regards, which can be used in either case.

 

Personally, I would not switch Sincerely and Faithfully around if for no other reason than the fact that the other person may interpret it as ignorance on my part if they are of a traditionalist bent. Why risk creating a bad impression for no gain?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by _Sergey222 on Thu, 10/12/2020 - 10:55

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Submitted by anna999 on Tue, 08/12/2020 - 23:50

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Сonsolidation of the studies received at the university

Submitted by EvgeniyKulikov on Tue, 08/12/2020 - 10:13

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The task was not difficult, everything turned out to be done

Submitted by margarita.draganchuk on Mon, 07/12/2020 - 17:45

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Simple and interesting task, everything worked out

Submitted by Julia.a on Mon, 07/12/2020 - 02:07

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Very simple task. Here I have consolidated my knowledge of the email template

Submitted by Pavel_Kharchenko on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 11:01

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The tasks are quite simple, but you need to think about them.

Submitted by vika_belan on Fri, 27/11/2020 - 12:56

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It was easy. Because we learned it at the Institute recently. I like that !

Submitted by Nikita Maslov on Fri, 27/11/2020 - 12:56

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I would like to have more difficult tasks

Submitted by kokisaoudy on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 13:04

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when we start a formal mail by introducing my self & my comp to market my product as : Dear Sir, iam karima sales coordinator in ....... is it right or not ?

Hello kokisaoudy

That is grammatically correct, though please note that spelling and punctuation are very important in English, particularly formal English. So what you wrote needs to be formatted like this: 'I am Karima, Sales Coordinator at XYZ Company'.

That is not particularly formal, though. I'm afraid I can't write your letter for you, but, for example, saying 'My name is Karima and I am a Sales Coordinator at ...' would be better here.

There aren't any emails like this one in our Writing skills section, but I'd recommend you have a look at some of the emails there to practise more.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by prabhakaran729 on Thu, 11/06/2020 - 05:47

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Hello Team, Good Day to you, Hope your are doing well. I would like know, how to start the new email communication with new customers and he also unknown person, Subject: Just we would like to start as introduction of my company How to finished email and thanks

Hello prabhakaran729,

There is no single way to do this. It really depends on the culture of the company and the tone you wish to aim at. Some companies prefer a very formal approach (Dear Sir/Madam, > Yours faithfully,), while others use a more relaxed style. We can't guess what style your company prefers and so we can't really give you any detailed help here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by prabhakaran729 on Thu, 11/06/2020 - 05:40

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Hello, Hope your doing well. I would like to know how to start new email communication with new customers and he also unknown person. how to finished email and thanks to them

Submitted by omanov on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 09:19

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we spend more time to learn and we have better results

Submitted by _SENDavid_ on Sun, 17/05/2020 - 13:00

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Dear LearningEnglish Team You wrote "We normally write a comma after the opening phrase" .... I learned it the other way round. So I write no comma after both, starting and ending phrase. Am I doing right though? Thanks David

Hello _SENDavid_,

That sounds fine. As it says above, we use commas after the opening phrase ("Dear Joe,") and after the closing phrase ("Best Regards,").

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jamalov Nodir on Fri, 08/05/2020 - 14:47

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I got a good teaching for my result I had already done.

Submitted by yuldus83 on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 00:15

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Dear team members, Let me express my gratitude to all members of your team for presenting such useful task, it really helps to develop language skills. Kindest regards, Yulduz

Submitted by surya on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 03:16

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I am working in an international organization in Nepal. I am responsible for official mail frequently. It is very useful to me.

Submitted by Adam Smith on Wed, 09/10/2019 - 01:26

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Dear Mr. Peter M, Many thanks for your great advice ! Best regards,

Submitted by Adam Smith on Sat, 05/10/2019 - 09:38

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Our company is steel manufacturer, a formal writing is recommended. Supposed that Tim Cook is my manager, "Dear Mr. Tim" or "Dear Mr. Tim Cook" are accepted. How about "Dear Tim", is it consider as impolite ?

Hello Adam Smith,

Again, it depends on your company and on what is normal. If you've met the manager and are already on first name terms then 'Dear Tim' should be fine. If you haven't met the manager, or if you call him 'Sir' or 'Mr. Cook' when you speak to him, then the first name greeting would not be appropriate.

If you're not sure, then it's probably better to err on the side of being more formal.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Mr. Peter M, Many thanks for your advice ! I understand that, for email starting: - Formal writing: Dear Mr. Tim Cook, Dear Mr. Tim - Informal writing: Dear Tim, Hi Tim Using formal or informal style shall base on company culture. Some company, especially those in creative industries (advertisment, sofeware, education ...) may encourage the informal style, while other companies shall require the formal style If we are not sure, it's recommended to use the formal style, or seek for the advice from direct manager For the instructions in Unit 4: "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," I found: - Starting phrases, only examples of informal ones - Ending phrase, examples are for formal style This caused confusion, thus I need to ask more details. If possible, please consider to mention clearly, what examples are for firmal or informal style. It's better for understanding and implementation I am very happy to know this wonderful website, and highly appreciate for your great support to community ! With my best regards, Adam Smith

Hello Adam Smith,

We never use the first name with 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.', so 'Mr. Tim' is incorrect.

The reason you are finding so many different examples is that this really does depend on the particular company you are working for. What is appropriate in one company may not be appropriate in another.

My most general advice is this:

If you don't know your boss and have not spoken to him before, or if you have only addressed him as 'Mr. Cook', then a formal style is safest:

Dear Mr. Cook,

...

Yours Sincerely,

If you have spoken with your boss before and addressed them by their first name, then a less formal style is better:

Dear Tim,

...

Regards / Best Regards,

If you have a relaxed relationship with your boss, and if company culture allows it, then a very informal style is possible:

Hi Tim,

...

Best / All the best / Yours,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Adam Smith on Fri, 04/10/2019 - 22:53

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If my manager is Tim Cook, is it accepted if I start my email as "Dear Tim" ? As guided in this Unit 4: "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 ..."

Hello Adam Smith,

This really depends on the culture of the company. Some companies encourage a more informal internal style, including the use of first names in this way, while other companies maintain a more formal and hierarchical form of interaction.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nazarova Feruza on Sun, 07/07/2019 - 18:51

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Sorry for grammar mistake, the word - important.

Submitted by Nazarova Feruza on Tue, 02/07/2019 - 09:54

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Hello! Nice tests. The rules of politeness writing are very impotent for improving English writing skills.
Hello! Good tests. I like it too. Very useful information, when we write a letter official and not official, the rules of politeness of writing are very powerless to improve the skills of English writing.

Submitted by saeedeh on Thu, 30/05/2019 - 21:25

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Hello all, I am new member of learn English, and i hope to develop my language as a native.

Submitted by Akmal Karimov on Mon, 27/05/2019 - 12:56

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Dear "SOMEONE" I want to meet you. Because I want to avoid the habit of different countries. With best wishes, Akmal Karimov

Submitted by Asaph on Tue, 02/04/2019 - 01:25

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I find I am thrown off by what should be correct punctuation. Perhaps this is dealt with. I haven't discovered it. Also, I wonder if there is a section that helps above the intermediate levels. And this is confusing to know when using 'I or me', 'who or whom' and that type of problem.
Hello Asaph, Punctuation can be confusing, can't it? We don't have pages devoted to this topic, but we make sure our texts are appropriately punctuated, so you can see good examples as you read and if you have any questions about the punctuation then you can always ask quoting the appropriate section. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Amanda Cross on Thu, 21/02/2019 - 18:57

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I can say that it is more common to start an email with "dear" and after you get a response move to a simpler "hi" greeting. Also, when you write an email some information/ numbers/ refer to polls then you should also try to cite where you took it from ( https://-----------------) since it is a good practice if you are headed towards academia.

Hello Amanda

These are very useful ideas -- thanks for sharing them here!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by lilimoon on Sun, 10/02/2019 - 15:47

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I really enjoy the samples and exercises!

Submitted by jmajo on Mon, 04/02/2019 - 15:49

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Hi there, I would like to know if the ending phrase: "Kind Regards," it is formal or informal. Thanks!

Hello jmajo

'Kind regards' (notice the second word is not capitalised) is neutral in register, that is, neither formal nor informal. In many business contexts in the UK, it would be an acceptable way to end an email, unless the situation called for a very formal style.

It would sound strange if you used it with friends or family, but would be appropriate to use when writing to someone you don't know or don't know well.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by englishman332 on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 19:13

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> 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