Writing business emails in English is a very important skill to have. In fact, if you want your career to progress, it's essential that you can write a business email in English correctly.

In this online exercise on writing emails in English, we will look at some of the basics of writing business emails in English. How to say an email address, the different titles you need to use for people, and lastly how to start and finish an email if you have or haven't had contact with the person before.

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Exercise: Advice on writing emails

Read the following conversation between Peter and Juan, two work colleagues, about emails in English.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Juan:'Peter, I have to write an email. It's the first time I've had to write an email for work. Could you help me with some doubts I have?'

Peter:'No problem, what do you want to know?'

Juan:'What's the difference between Dear Sir/Madam and Dear Mr Smith?'

Peter: 'Well, we start an email with both, 'Dear Sir/Madam' is when you haven't had any contact with the person before and 'Dear Mr' is when you have. Both are very formal.'

Juan:'OK. And when do you finish an email with yours faithfully and yours sincerely?'

Peter:'Normally, 'yours faithfully' is used with 'Dear Sir/Madam' and 'yours sincerely' with 'Dear Mr'.'

Juan:'And with titles of people, I suppose Mr is for a man, Mrs is for a married woman. But I've also seen, Miss and another one, Ms. What's the difference between these two?'

Peter:''Miss' is for an unmarried woman. 'Ms' is used when you don't know if she's married or not.'

Juan:'I have another question. When I tell people my email address, I don't know how to say the symbols. It's really difficult when somebody tells me theirs. Normally, I have to ask them to write it down.'

Peter:'Well, mine is Peter.Jacks_red@yahoo.com. You say it like this Peter Full Stop Jacks Underscore red At yahoo Dot com. Remember that when the '.' is before the '@' you always say full stop and when it is after the '@', it's always dot.'

Juan:'Thanks Peter.'


Now do the QUIZ below to make sure you know the meaning of this vocabulary.

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Quiz: Essential email vocabulary

Using the words/phrases in bold from the above text, fill in the blanks in the following questions. Only use one word/phrase once and write it as it is in the above text. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, an Additional Information Icon "" will appear next to the answer. Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation.

1. The title for an unmarried woman, is    

     

Miss:
(noun) This is used in the whole of the English speaking world. In Spanish: "Señorita/Srta.

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2. When you start an email with 'Dear Sir/Madam', you finish it with    

     

Yours faithfully:
(phrase) This is the correct ending to use with this type of greeting for both emails and letters. Although, it is more common with letter writing. In Spanish: "le saluda atentamente".

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3. The '.' after the @ in an email address is called    

     

Dot:
(symbol) 'Dot' is also used in website addresses. This is used in the whole of the English-speaking world. In Spanish: "punto".

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4. When you finish an email with 'yours sincerely', you start the email with    

     

Dear Mr:
(phrase) This is used for both emails and letters. 'Mrs', 'Miss', 'Ms', 'Dr' can be also be used after Dear. And it is followed with the surname or full name, e.g. 'Dear Miss Jenkins'. The use of 'Dear' and the only first name, should only be used for emails to family and very close friends. In Spanish: "Estimado Señor".

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5. The '@' symbol, is called    

     

At:
(symbol) This is used in the whole of the English-speaking world. In Spanish: "arroba".

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6. If you don't know if a woman is married or not, you can use    

     

Ms:
(noun) Some women prefer not to say if they are married or not, and prefer to use 'Ms' instead of 'Mrs' or 'Miss'. There is no equivalent in some languages, including Spanish."".

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7. When you finish an email with 'yours faithfully', you start it with    

     

Dear Sir/Madam:
(phrase) This is used for both emails and letters, although it is more common with letter writing. In this type of greeting, 'Dear' is only followed by 'Sir' (for a man) or 'Madam' (for a woman) without no name. In Spanish: "Estimado Señor/Señora".

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8. The '.' before the @ in an email address is called    

     

Full stop:
(symbol) Although it is recommended that you use call the '.' full stop before the '@' in an email address, in North American they call it 'period' or 'dot'. In Spanish: "punto".

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9. When you start an email with 'Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms', you finish it with    

     

Yours sincerely:
(phrase) This is used for both emails and letters. Although it is recommended that you end a formal email 'yours sincerely', some people do use 'regards' or 'best regards'. In Spanish: "atentamente".

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10. The '_' symbol, is called    

     

Underscore:
(symbol) Only the symbol "_" is called underscore.

This is called underline. In Spanish: "subrayar".

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Practice

Now that you understand the email essentials vocabulary, practice them by creating your own emails in English with the new words.

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