Business English

Business English: Beginning an email

February 17, 2015

How do you begin a professional email in English? This is a question that many CISL students ask us. The answer is not a simple one: the way you begin an email depends on many factors. Do you know the person you are addressing? How well do you know this person? Or, maybe you do not know them at all. For each situation, we have a different beginning to a business English email (or letter). The following includes examples of different business English letter circumstances and the appropriate openings.

Beginning a Business English Email

Situation 1: When you do not know the people to whom you are writing.

Appropriate openings include the following:

  • Dear Sir or Madame
  • Dear Sir or Madame:
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • To Whom It May Concern:

(The colon is common in American English; whereas the colon is not needed in British English.)

 

Situation 2: When you know the names of the people to whom you are writing, but you do not know these individual(s) well.

Appropriate openings include the following:

  • Dear Mr. Smith:
  • Dear Mr Smith
  • Dear Mr and Mrs Smith
  • Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith:

(The period after “Mister” and Misses” is common in American English; whereas it is not needed in British English.)

Sample Business Letter from Career-City.com.

Sample Business Letter from Career-City.com.

Situation 3: When you know the name of the person you are addressing, and you know the person well.

Appropriate openings include the following:

  • Dear Jane,

For more information on Business English, check out our posts on British English Idioms. For more information on CISL’s Business English classes, click here

 

Photo from Shutterstock.

You Might Also Like