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Writing letters and emails

Here are some phrases and conventions which you may find useful when writing letters and emails in English.

Writing an informal letter

Start your letter by using the word Dear followed by the first name of the person you're writing to, for example:

Dear Mark,
Dear Jane,

Here are some things you might say:

Thanks for your …
Sorry it's taken me so long to write.
I hope you're well.
Good to see you again last week.
Look forward to seeing you soon!

Here are some typical ways to finish an informal letter:

Best wishes,
Kind regards,

If writing to a family member, partner, or close friend, you can finish with the following:


Finish by signing your first name.

Writing an email

Emails, whether for business or social reasons, are usually written in a more informal style than letters.

You should always give your email a Subject, which should summarise its purpose in a few words.

The conventions for starting business emails vary, although it is quite common to use first names for both business and personal emails if you know the recipient.

It is not necessary to use Dear, although some people prefer to do this.

Generally speaking, the content of business emails should be brief and to the point.

If you are including any attachments, make sure to mention it in the text of your email.

To close a personal email, you can use the same expressions as for informal letters.

The conventions for closing business emails vary, but phrases such as the following are appropriate:

Kind regards,
Best regards,
With kind regards,

In business emails, you should also include your full name, organisation, and contact details at the end.


Writing a formal letter

If you know the name of the person you are writing to, start your letter by using Dear Mr (for a man), Dear Mrs (for a married woman), Dear Miss (for an unmarried woman), or Dear Ms (for an unmarried woman or where the marital status is unknown), followed by the surname, for example:

Dear Mr Smith,
Dear Mrs Jones,
Dear Miss Richards,
Dear Ms Shepherd,

If you don't know the name, start with one of the following:

Dear Sir,
Dear Madam,
Dear Sir or Madam,

Here are some examples of things you might say in a formal letter:

I am writing in reply to your letter of 4 September regarding your outstanding invoice.
Further to our conversation, I'm pleased to confirm our appointment for 9.30am on Tuesday, 7 January.
I would be grateful if you could attend to this matter as soon as possible.
If you would like any further information, please don't hesitate to contact me.

If you would like a reply, you can use the following sentence at the end of your letter:

I look forward to hearing from you.

If you started your letter with Dear Mr, Dear Mrs, Dear Miss, or Dear Ms, you should finish your letter with the following expression:

Yours sincerely,

However, if you started your letter with Dear Sir, Dear Madam, or Dear Sir or Madam, then use the following:

Yours faithfully,

Add your signature at the end, followed by your full name printed.

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