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Crafting the Perfect Email Opener: A Guide for Legal and Business English Students



Writing an email
Writing an email

Email communication is a cornerstone of modern business and legal practice. The way you start your emails sets the tone for the entire conversation. As a legal English teacher, I understand the importance of mastering email etiquette in professional and legal contexts. In this guide, we'll explore various ways to start an email, with a focus on expressions that make reference to a previous contact, common acquaintances, stating the reason for writing, and providing information. We'll distinguish between formal and informal expressions, offering context and examples for each.


Expressions That Reference a Previous Contact:


Formal Email Expressions:


1. “Thank you for your email of [date]."

- Context: This expression acknowledges the recipient's previous email and is often used in formal correspondence.

- Example: Thank you for your email of 1st September.


2. “With reference to your email sent [date]."

- Context: This phrase is used to refer to a specific email from the recipient.

- Example: With reference to your email sent on 15th August.


3. “I apologise for not getting in touch with you before now."

- Context: This expression conveys regret for any delay in responding.

- Example: I apologise for not getting in touch with you before now; it's been a busy month.


Less Formal Email Expressions:


1. “Thanks for your email."

- Context: This is a more casual way to acknowledge the recipient's email.

- Example: Thanks for your email regarding the upcoming meeting.


2. "Re your last email."

- Context: This is a concise and informal way to reference the recipient's previous message.

- Example: Re your last email, I have some updates to share.


3. "Sorry I haven't written for ages, but I've been very busy."

- Context: This friendly opening acknowledges a lapse in communication.

- Example: Sorry I haven't written for ages, but I've been very busy with a major project.


Expressions That Reference a Common Acquaintance:


Formal Email Expression:


1. "Your name was given to me by [Name]."

- Context: This formal introduction informs the recipient how you obtained their contact information.

- Example: Your name was given to me by Mr. Smith from our legal department.


Less Formal Email Expression:


1. "I got your name from [Name]."

- Context: This is a more casual way to mention how you came across the recipient's name.

- Example: I got your name from Sarah in the marketing team.


Expressions That State the Reason for Writing:


Formal Email Expressions:


1. "We are writing to inform you that [reason]."

- Context: This formal opening sets a clear and direct tone for conveying information.

- Example: We are writing to inform you that the contract has been approved.


2. "I am writing in connection with [reason]."

- Context: This expression signals the purpose of the email and is suitable for formal communication.

- Example: I am writing in connection with the upcoming shareholders' meeting.


3. "In reply to your email, here are [details]."

- Context: This phrase acknowledges the recipient's previous message and proceeds to provide a response.

- Example: In reply to your email, here are the requested financial reports.


Less Formal Email Expressions:


1. "Just a short note to let you know that [reason]."

- Context: This informal opener is concise and friendly, suitable for casual updates.

- Example: Just a short note to let you know that the office will be closed on Friday.


2. "I'm writing about [reason]."

- Context: This direct approach is less formal but still clear in stating the purpose of the email.

- Example: I'm writing about the upcoming team-building event.


3. Here's the [information] you wanted."

- Context: This expression cuts to the chase, providing the requested information.

- Example: Here's the project timeline you asked for.


Expressions That Start by Giving Information:


Formal Email Expressions:


1. "I am writing to let you know that [information]."

- Context: This formal opening is ideal for sharing important updates or announcements.

- Example: I'm writing to let you know that the merger has been finalised.


2. "We are able to confirm that [information]."

- Context: This formal expression signals assurance and reliability in the information provided.

- Example: We are able to confirm that your order has been shipped.


3. "We would like to point out that [information]."

- Context: Use this phrase to emphasise a specific detail or aspect of the message.

- Example: We would like to point out that our products come with a one-year warranty.


Less Formal Email Expression:


1. "Just a note to say [information]."

- Context: This is a friendly and straightforward way to provide information.

- Example: Just a note to say that the meeting venue has been changed to the 7th-floor conference room.


2. "I can confirm that [information]."

- Context: This is a concise and clear way to confirm or validate information.

- Example: I can confirm that your payment has been received.


3. "Please note that [information]."

- Context: This polite phrase draws attention to the information being shared.

- Example: Please note that the deadline for project submissions is extended to next Friday.


4. "Good news!"

- Context: Use this expression to start the email on a positive note when sharing favourable information.

- Example: Good news! Our proposal has been accepted by the client.


5. "Unfortunately [information]."

- Context: When delivering less favourable news, this expression sets the tone gently.

- Example: Unfortunately, the product launch has been postponed to next month.


In conclusion, understanding how to start an email effectively is a vital skill in both legal and business English. Whether you choose a formal or less formal approach depends on your relationship with the recipient, the nature of your communication, and the cultural norms of your workplace. Mastering these opening expressions will help you navigate professional and legal email communication with confidence and professionalism.


Happy emailing!



Sources:

Emmerson, P. (2013). Email English: Includes Phrase Bank of useful expressions. Macmillan.

Taylor, S. (2013). Model Business Letters, e-mails & other business documents. Pearson.


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