English Teacher Article Emails


Questions about how to open and close formal emails keep appearing in forums. There seem to be a number of ideas and no consensus, so I was wondering what people use.

I use the same salutation and closing as I would in formal letters where I don't know the person (Dear Sir or Madam, ..... yours faithfully,) or for first contact (Dear Mr\Ms X, ... yours sincerely,).

However, I have noticed that I find myself using first names quite quickly.

At work I generally use no salutation and end with 'Regards'.

Categories: General Topics


I tend to use whatever I was using before the abrupt arrival of e-mail. That is to say, mostly "Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Whatsit" together with "Yours sincerely." I fail to see why e-mail notes should be any different. E-mail is by right just another way of sending messages, and not necessarily a less formal way! Why should it be less formal?

No reason- it's a perfectly logical argument. If you use the letter format, you won't offend anyone.

Write exactly the same way you would write a traditional letter. Email is only as formal as the register calls for. Be formal if you need to be and not if not.

I agree on the point that email is not any less formal a medium of sending messages than a letter. The reason for cutting down on salutation and other niceties could be that Internet access is still a costly affair is several countries, so people just want to stick to the point that needs to be communicated urgently while not having to spend a lot towards wired-time.

May I also point out that "email" is considered to be a mass noun, so it cannot take a direct plural. The addition of a "count frame" is necessary to indicate plurality. This is to say "emails" and "an email" are wrong.

I have to say that I don't agree with 'email' as only being a mass noun. If you are talking about the form of communication it is, but if you are talking about the individual messages, then it is perfectly correct to use the plural:

Email is a fantastic way to communicate. (Mass noun)
I sent 10 emails yesterday. (Count noun)

Hi tdol,

There can be no two opinions on your first sentence. The second sentence, however, is where the need for a 'count frame' comes into the picture.

In this case you could add the word 'messages' as a count frame and say, "I sent 10 email messages yesterday". However, going by the way things are evolving, 'email' might soon become (if it has not already become) a word such as 'experience' which could be used both as a countable noun and a mass noun, depending on the context.

Can anybody chime in? I haven't received any emails in a while. Or: " I sent several emails yesterday. " Or: "How many emals do you have in your inbox?" Definitely countable.



I've been thinking about this and posted a question on our site forum (http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4065). Someone else said the same thing as you, which reminded me that in British English we don't use 'mail', so the mass\count question doesn't arise for us. We adopted 'email' without having used 'mail', which probably accounts for the difference. ;-)

Uncount noun

Singular Plural
A piece of mail. Two pieces of mail.

Example From Toefl book . Problem number 60 or 60 pluse , not sure.

It would appear that American speakers are divided- some think it is a mass noun and others a count noun. However, British speakers all use it as a count noun.

This is an issue with which I have been involved for years. I have seen more and more people using emails - which seems to be a derivitive of E-mail - a shortened version of Electronic Mail. Since the term mail is a collective noun, it seems that the most appropriate way to address this would me email messages. Since what arrives ARE indeed messages, commonly refered to as mail.

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