Email formality review
Without looking below, listen to your teacher and hold up the Formal or Informal card depending on what you hear.
Label the sections below with F for Formal or I for Informal.
- I look forward to hearing from you soon
- I regret to inform you that…
- I would be very pleased to meet on Thursday, if that is convenient with you.
- If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me
- Please accept my sincerest apologies (for…)
- If you need to know anything else, just drop me a line.
- It was great to hear from you.
- Some more information about… would be a great help.
- Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.
- Take care
- We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
- With reference to your email last week,…
- Would you by any chance be available to meet on Thursday?
- You can rest assured that this will not happen again.
- Yours faithfully
- Yours sincerely/ Sincerely/ Sincerely yours
- Check this out!
- Please do it asap.
- I can’t make it then.
- I expect action straightaway.
- I need it right away.
- I want you to…
- It wasn’t our fault.
- Bit busy, sorry!
- Write soon!
- Lots of love/ Love from/ With all my love/ Hugs and kisses/ XXX
- Miss you!
- Please let me know by tomorrow.
- Send my love to John.
- Any feedback you can give me on this would be gratefully received.
- Dear Mrs/ Ms/ Mrs/ Miss/ Dr…
- Dear Sir or Madam
- I am very grateful for…
- I am writing to you in connection with…
- I hope you are well.
- Are you free on Wed?
- Hi Alex/ Hi
- Bye for now/ See you (soon/ then)/ CU
- How are things?/ How’s it going?
- Have a look at the attachment for details.
- Here’s the info you asked for:
- Hope that helps.
- How about meeting on Thursday?
- You’re a lifesaver!/ You’re a star!
- Please find the schedule attached./ Please find attached my report.
- Please give my regards to Mr Smith.
- Thank you for your letter of 17 March.
- Thank you in advance.
- To whom it may concern
- If you need any further information, please do not have the slightest hesitation in contacting me at any time at all.
- I am very grateful to you for responding to my email so quickly.
- We deeply regret any inconvenience we might have caused any of you in any way.
- It was an honour to meet you yesterday
- Thank you in advance for all and any help you are able to offer me on this matter. You have my eternal gratitude for helping me.
- Could you possibly have a little look at the attached document, if it’s not too much trouble?
After checking your answers, test each other in pairs.
What are the general differences between formal and informal emails?
Decide if each of the things below is a characteristic of formal or informal emails:
- Grammar (e.g. word order) unlike normal speech
- Similar to speech
- Avoid contractions (= using “I am” instead of “I’m”, etc)
- Using short forms (btw etc)
- Longer words and longer sentences
- No subject or no subject and no auxiliary verb
- Phrasal verbs like “get + back + to + me”
- Other idioms made from short words like “keep + in + touch”
- Other idiomatic language or slang
- Very polite language such as “Would you mind…?”
- Exclamation marks and multiple punctuation (e.g. !!!!)
- Emoticons such as smileys
- Just first names
- Family names
Some of the sections above are actually too formal or too informal for most business emails. Try to find those sections and then rewrite or replace the sentences to make them more suitable.
What are the functions of the following emails? What are their levels of formality?
Write the emails that come before and after those two with the right levels of formality for homework.
Dear Sir or Madam
I saw your advertisement in the Guardian last week and I am writing to ask for more information about your services.
First of all, I would like to know more about the costs and conditions involved in having a contract with your company. Could you possibly tell me the usual cost and payment conditions?
My second question was about after sales service. More specifically, I’d be interested to hear how long it takes for a service engineer to come out.
Finally, could I ask about the minimum and maximum lengths of contract?
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Alex Case, Head of Purchasing, British Corporation
How’s it going? Hope your weekend wasn’t ruined by the weather.
Here’s the info you asked for:
- It usually costs 400 pounds, more or less, and you have to pay within a month
- Two days max, but usually within 24hrs
- The minimum is six months. Never thought about a maximum! Two years??
Hope that helps. Drop me a line if there’s anything else you want to know.
Cards for students to raise when listening
- If you need any further information, please do not have the slightest hesitation in contacting me at any time at all – If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me
- I am very grateful to you for responding to my email so quickly. – Thank you for your quick reply.
- We deeply regret any inconvenience we might have caused any of you in any way. – We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.
- It was an honour to meet you yesterday – It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday/ Thank you for making the time to meet me yesterday
- Thank you in advance for all and any help you are able to offer me on this matter. – Thank you in advance/ Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
- You have my eternal gratitude for helping me. – Thank you very much for all your help.
- Could you possibly have a little look at the attached document, if it’s not too much trouble? – Any feedback you can give me on the attached document would be gratefully received.
- Check this out! – Please see the information below.
- Do it asap. – If you could finish it by the end of today, that would allow me to forward it to my boss before the weekend.
- Help! – Could you give me a hand (with…)?
- I can’t make it then. – I can’t make it at 9, but I’m free from 11.
- I expect action straightaway. – Your rapid response would be greatly appreciated.
- I need it right away. – Could you let me have it in the next couple of days?
- I want you to… – Would you mind…?/ Could you…?
- It wasn’t our fault. – This was due to circumstances beyond our control.
- Bit busy, sorry! – I’m afraid I have another appointment at that time.
- Lots of love/ Love from/ With all my love/ Hugs and kisses/ XXX – Best regards/ Yours/ All the best/ Sincerely/ Sincerely yours
- Miss you! – Long time no see/ I’m sorry it took me so long to write back./ It seems so long since we last met.
- Please let me know by tomorrow. – Can you let me know by tomorrow, because I need to check the details with my boss?
- Send my love to John. – Say hi to John from me/ Please send my regards to John/ Please send my best wishes to John
- Wassup? – How are you?/ How’s it going?/ How are things?/ I hope you are (all) well
- Write soon! – I look forward to hearing from you soon./ (I’m) looking forward to hearing from you.
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