jueves, 17 de diciembre de 2015


Emails are generally shorter than letters. As they are often written quickly, in response to a request or question, they may contain only a few lines. Informal English, abbreviations, and absence of standard salutations are common when you write emails.
Emails may contain the following elements:
– Subject line
This shows the reader the exact subject of the email
– (Salutation)
This is optional. Some people start with "Hi", others with the first name "Clare", or others with no name or salutation at all.
– Reason for writing
– Main point
– (Closing)
There are a variety of closing phrases, such as "Cheers" or "Thanks". These are also optional.
How to write better emails
1. Use a descriptive subject line.
Say what the email is about in a few words. Instead of writing "Urgent", write "Meeting at 10am about pay rise".
Use a subject line each time you reply to an email, to avoid subject lines starting Re: or R:R:
Be careful to avoid writing general subject lines, such as "Hello" or "Hi", as some email providers automatically delete these as spam.
2. Keep your emails short.
Try to keep to only one point in each email. If necessary, you can send more emails on different points. If you write a descriptive subject line for each email, it's easier for your reader to understand the content of your email.
You don't need to quote all the previous messages in the one you send. You can selectively quote (only including the previous question, for example) by using the angle brackets < < quote here >>.
3. Write simple, direct English.
This is especially important if you're writing to someone whose first language is not English.
Here are some ways of writing simple English:
– use active forms instead of passive forms
– write short sentences rather than long ones (if in doubt, stick to a “who did what to who, how, where and when)
– don't use idioms
– use common words rather than technical or jargon words if your reader is not in the same field as you
4. Make sure your reader knows what to do next.
Help your reader act on your email. For example, if you want your reader to find some information for you, write "Please can you find me the sales figures for 2009" instead of the vaguer "I'm going to need the sales figures for 2009".
5. Reduce the amount of email you send.
Most people receive more – rather than less – email every day. Here are some ways you can reduce the number of emails you send to people:
– make a phone call rather than write an email. This is particularly effective if you only want a quick piece of information
– only send an email to the people who need to see it. Don't automatically click "reply to all" if only one or two people need to read your message.
– don't take part in chain emails (when you have to forward something on to five of your best friends, for example)
– don't reply to spam
6. Don't send heavy attachments.
If possible, send a zip file, or give web addresses where your reader can find information.
7. Be careful what you write in your email.
Try to make your emails informative and polite, and use a neutral tone. Remember that your reader could forward your email to other people, so only write what you would be happy for other people to read. (No gossip, no personal comments, no confidential information and no ambiguous English such as sarcastic humour.)
Avoid using emoticons and smilies in business emails, or too many exclamation marks.
8. Check your email before you send it.
Use a spell check to eliminate spelling mistakes. Read your email aloud to check for grammar and punctuation errors. Ask yourself these questions:
"Is this clear?"
"Does my reader know what to do next?"
"Is this polite?"
Samples for writing emails
There are a number of ways to start the email. In many cases, you can copy the sender and use the same greeting, but if you are the one to write first, here are some possible greetings.
– Friends and colleagues
"Hi" is informal, and you can use it for friends and colleagues.
You can also use "Hello" or "Hello + first name" if you know the person well.
– For acquaintances
Use "Dear Mr Jones" / "Dear Ms Jones" if you know the name of the person. Like with letters, use Ms instead of Miss or Mrs.
– Formal emails
If you don't know the name of the person, you can write "Dear Sir", "Dear Madam" or "Dear Sir / Madam".
– Writing to a group of people
If you are writing to a group of people, you could use a collective noun:
"Dear customers", "Dear partners".
If you are writing to a group of people who work in the same company or department, you could write "Dear All", "Dear colleagues", or "Hello everyone".
– Writing to a group of bosses in your company
Here you could write "Dear Managers", "Dear Directors" or "Dear Board members".
– No greeting
Often in companies, you write quick emails to colleagues. Using email in this way is almost like using the telephone. In these situations, you don't need to write any greeting or name, but just start the message.
Starting your email
Your first sentence should tell the reader what your email is about. Here are four of the most common reasons for writing an email, along with some sentences you can use to start:
1. Replying to a previous email
Thanks for the information.
Thanks for your phone call.
Thanks for getting me the figures.
2. Giving brief updates
Just a quick note to tell you…
Just a quick note to let you know…
Just to update you on…
3. Referring to an attachment
Take a look at the attached file.
Have a quick look at the file I've attached about…
Thought you might find the attached interesting.
4. Changing plans
Sorry, but I can't make the meeting tomorrow.
Sorry, but I won't be able to meet you next week.
Sorry, but something has come up and I can't meet you for lunch.
Your first sentence should only have one theme. For example, your reason for writing may be to ask for help, or to share some information, or to ask a question. Your first sentence for these different situations could be:
"Have you got a few minutes to help me with…?"
"Just wanted to let you know…"
"Regarding X, can you tell me if…?"
If you have more than one reason for writing, give each reason its own paragraph. It doesn't matter if your paragraph is only one line long. In fact, the extra space helps your reader to understand you have more than one reason for writing, and that each reason is different from the other.
Sample email writing
Hi Jo
Just wanted to let you know we got the project! They're signing tomorrow, so we should be starting the planning next week.
Regarding your presentation to them last year, do you still have the Powerpoint files?

More Email Writing Help

Writing emails is a vital business writing skill and there are a number of good guides available to help. Here are two which we highly recommend.
The Art of Email Writing – business writing coach Philip Vassallo shows you how to write emails that get results. He provides an easy to follow method for writing clearly and concisely and in a way which will make your reader respond. If you sometimes feel it takes you too long to get to the point of an email this book will help.
Business E-Mail How to Make It Professional and Effective. Award-winning business communications writer and trainer Lisa A. Smith has written a practical and highly readable guide to writing business emails. The first part, How to Make Email Work for You, covers general email writing and will be helpful if you're starting your business writing career or if you're not a native English speaker.
Of more interest to seasoned writers will be the second part of the book, How To Write for Business, which covers the the dos and don'ts of business email in a handy reference format. It's an invaluable business writing resource whether you're working for a company or for yourself.
Tips for getting the most from an English dictionary.

Invest in a good English dictionary. It's one of the best things that you can do to improve your English.
Learn the phonetic alphabet. At the beginning of most good English dictionaries, you'll find the phonetic table, which tells you how to pronounce the phonetic symbols given with each word. If you learn these symbols, you'll find it much easier to pronounce new words.
Learn how to use the stress marks. Most English dictionaries show where the stress of a word is by using the mark '. This means that the following syllable is stressed:
pho- 'to-gra-pher
The best way to improve your pronunciation is with correct word stress, as making mistakes with stress causes more misunderstandings than mispronouncing the word.
Make sure you know the grammar of the new word. If it is a verb, does it need a preposition, such as 'in' or 'of'? Does the verb have an irregular ending?
Look at the definition of the new word. If you don't understand it, try a simpler dictionary. Good dictionaries give definitions that are simpler than the word they describe.
Look at the example sentence given. It should show the new word in a way that explains its meaning.

Other things to think about

Is the new word typically spoken or written? Formal or informal? American or British? Which other words can you use it with?
This information will help you to start practising the new word, confident that you are using it in the right situation.
Don't try to learn every new word – concentrate on the words or phrases you think you will need to know.
Many English words have more than one meaning. Some dictionaries put the most common meaning first in the list of definitions.
Pictures of words, or word groups, can help you to remember more easily.

Questions about dictionaries

1. Should I use a normal English dictionary, or a bilingual one?
It's generally better to use a normal English (monolingual) dictionary. There are three main advantages of these dictionaries.
* They give you practice in understanding English.
* As the definitions and examples are in English, you can see immediately how a word is used.
* Because many English words won't translate directly into your language, you have to be careful with bilingual dictionaries when you write down the meaning of the word.
2. Why can't I understand the definitions? Perhaps your dictionary is too complicated. Try using one that's especially designed for learners of English at your level. It's annoying if you can't understand the definition or example sentence of a new word. It's much better to start off with a simpler dictionary, such as Longman Active Study Dictionary, then move on to a more complex one later.
3. How many words should there be?No dictionary contains all the words and expressions in English (currently estimated to be around 1 million). The average person knows at least 60,000 words, so a useful dictionary will have around 80,000 words and expressions.
4. Why can't I find the words in my dictionary? English is changing – every year there are new words and expressions. Make sure your dictionary is fairly new, as any dictionary older than a few years may be out-of-date. If you're looking for a special or technical word, it might be a good idea to invest in a specialised dictionary.
Here are some useful words and phrases to talk about studying and school in English.

Studying for exams

take an exam / sit an exam = do an exam
"I'm taking an exam in accountancy next week."
pass an exam = get a good enough mark to succeed
"I hope I'll pass the Maths exam."
get a good / high mark = do well in the exam
"He got a good mark in Spanish."
get a bad / low mark = do badly in the exam
"He got a low mark in Statistics."
pass with flying colours = pass with high marks
"Congratulations! You passed with flying colours!"
scrape a pass = only just pass
"She scraped a pass in Biology, but it was enough to get her in to University."
fail an exam = not pass :((
"He failed all his exams because he didn't study hard enough."
Before the exam
How do you prepare for an exam? Do you plan regular revision times, or do it all last-minute?
take extra lessons / have private tuition / private coaching = pay for a personal teacher to help you with the subject
"She's going to take extra lessons in French to help her pass the exam."
revise = go over everything you've studied
"Tonight I'm going to revise the Cold War, then it's the EU tomorrow night."
swot up = an informal synonym for "revise"
"She's swotting up for her test tomorrow."
cram = try and force as much information into your head as possible
"I've got to cram for next week's test."
learn by heart / memorise = try to remember facts etc, without necessarily understanding them
"I need to learn the French irregular verbs by heart."
During the exam
cheat / copy / use a crib sheet = use dishonest methods to try and pass the exam, such as copying someone else, or hiding notes so you can read them during the exam

What sort of student are you?

stellar = a star performer
hard-working = someone who tries
straight A = a student who always gets top marks
plodder = someone who works consistently, but isn't particularly brilliant
mediocre = not bad, average
abysmal = terrible

British schools

In Britain, pupils wear a school uniform. As well as a particular skirt or pair of trousers, with a specific shirt and jumper, they also have a school PE kit (clothes that they wear to play sports at school).
Most children go to state-run primary and secondary schools. Schools are mostly mixed (girls and boys sit in the same classes), although there are some single-sex schools (schools for girls or boys only) and a few schools are private, where parents pay school fees.
Schools try to have clear rules for acceptable behaviour. For example, pupils (school children) have to show respect to their teachers. Often they have to stand up when their teacher comes into the classroom and say "Good morning". If pupils break the rules, they can expect to be sent to the headmaster or headmistress, or to do detention, when they stay behind after the other pupils go home.
Most schools have lessons in the morning and in the afternoon. Pupils can go home for lunch, or have their lunch in school. Some have a packed lunch (where they bring lunch from home, such as sandwiches, fruit etc) and some eat what the school prepares. These "school dinners" vary in quality, and there has recently been a lot of media interest in providing healthy school dinners for pupils.
Pupils can expect to get homework for most subjects, and there are regular tests to check progress. At the end of each of the three school terms, teachers give each pupil a report. Schools also have a parents' evening each year, when the parents can meet the teachers to discuss their child's progress.
School isn't just lessons and homework though. Most schools arrange a sports day once a year, as well as school trips to places of interest.