ESL Writing Lesson: How to Write and Format an Email

This is the last week of new content to help ESL students learn English writing.

Email Writing Research

  1. This slideshow provides basic data about email messages.
  2. Here is an email which I sent to many hotels in Korea. Some of the answers I received are here.

Dear Sir/Madame,

I’d like to get some information about rooms and availability at your hotel.

I have two adults and one teenager traveling to Seoul. They need a room for two nights
on May 26 and May 27.

1. Do you have rooms available on those nights?
2. What are the rates and taxes?
3. Do you have wheelchair access?
4. What is the best way to travel to your hotel from the airport?

Many thanks for your help and information.

Rob

 

PROFESSIONAL EMAIL WRITING

Writing an effective email in English is not difficult. But my students need to learn a few basic writing skills.  This lesson will help them in the future, especially when they start looking for a job and need to write emails in English.

Intro

Just about every email – in the professional world – is about two things:

  1. Giving information
  2. Asking for something (a request)

Email is fast, which is good. But you have to write for people who read quickly as well. That means:

  1. be clear (few mistakes)
  2. be brief (not too wordy, no extra information).

In business, the tone of an email is very important. Tone means the feeling people get when they read your message. Emails should be polite. But unlike a business letter, an email does not usually have to be super polite. Also the style (or formatting) of the email message is important.

Email Structure

Here is a worksheet that outlines the basic structure of an email.

10 Rules for Writing Business E-Mails

  1. Remember PAS. Purpose, action, salutation. The beginning should say the purpose; why you are writing. Next, the email should have clear action: are you giving information or asking for something? Finally, close the email with a polite way to say goodbye.
  2. Be informal, but not too friendly. ‘Hello Rob’, or ‘Hi  Mr. Kim’ are okay. Sometimes, people write emails that begin with a name, like “Steve”. Never use emoticons.
  3. Be concise. Business e-mails are short. Usually, 2 paragraphs are enough – few people read long emails.
  4. Use the subject line well. Tell readers why they should open your email.
  5. Remember grammar, word choice, punctuation and spelling.
  6. People scan emails. If it is interesting, they might read it carefully. Many people receive 25 to 100 emails a day. They don’t have time to read every email. Short sentences and short paragraphs are good.
  7. Reference. If your email is a reply, say that. Something like this: “In your last email you asked …..” .
  8. If your message has an attachment, add one sentence to say that.
  9. Use white space. Usually, 2 lines per paragraph. This makes the message easy to scan and read.
  10. Write with active sentences. Passive sentences use more words and take longer to read.

Writing Exercise

You task is to write an email message that sends an answer to a question with information.

Here is the email message with a question. You job is to answer the question by

  1. comparing the two things
  2. write a properly formatted email message

 

3 thoughts on “ESL Writing Lesson: How to Write and Format an Email”

  1. SMARTPHONE

    Thank you for sending message.
    I am a phone store staff. I am Yoichiro.
    I know what kind of phone you want.
    You need access easily , good quality picture, memory and battery.
    I suggest you that Samsung Galaxy S4 is better

    Many thanks,
    Yoichiro Nakayama

    HYDRID CAR

    Thank you for sending message.
    I am a phone store staff. I am Yoichiro.
    I know what kind of phone you want.
    You need cost, reliability and comfort.
    I suggest you that Honda Civic Hybrid is better

    Many thanks
    Yoichiro Nakayama

  2. Hi, Rob!

    My name is Shion Ishizuka.

    Sure, I’ll tell you which one to buy.

    I think Samsung Galaxy S4 is better for you to buy.
    There are three reason.
    First, it has more battery life for about 3 hours and its battery is replaceable.
    Second, you can expand its memory.
    Third, its rear camera is 13 megapixels so you must take good quality picture!

    In addition, its base price is much cheaper!

    That is why I recommend Samsung Galaxy S4 to you.

    I’m pleasure that I can help you!

    Shion

    Hi,Rob.

    My name is Shion Ishizuka.

    Sure, I’ll tell you which one to buy.

    It is so difficult question for me.
    Honda Civic Hybrid is better if you are most concerned cost.
    In contrast Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is better if you are most concerned comfort for your family.
    But, I think Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is better for you because its warranty is longer than Honda Civic Hybrid for two years. I know you are also most concerned reliable and if its warranty is expired, you’ll need to maintain a lot or buy a new one. It costs so expensive!

    That is why I recommend Hyundai Sonata.

    I’m pleasure that I can help you.

    Shine

  3. Hi, Rob!

    My name is Shion Ishizuka.

    Sure, I’ll tell you which one to buy.

    I think Samsung Galaxy S4 is better for you to buy.
    There are three reason.
    First, it has more battery life for about 3 hours and its battery is replaceable.
    Second, you can expand its memory.
    Third, its rear camera is 13 megapixels so you must take good quality picture!

    In addition, its base price is much cheaper!

    That is why I recommend Samsung Galaxy S4 to you.

    I’m pleasure that I can help you!

    Shion

    Hi,Rob.

    My name is Shion Ishizuka.

    Sure, I’ll tell you which one to buy.

    It is so difficult question for me.
    Honda Civic Hybrid is better if you are most concerned cost.
    In contrast Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is better if you are most concerned comfort for your family.
    But, I think Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is better for you because its warranty is longer than Honda Civic Hybrid for two years. I know you are also most concerned reliable and if its warranty is expired, you’ll need to maintain a lot or buy a new one. It costs so expensive!

    That is why I recommend Hyundai Sonata.

    I’m pleasure that I can help you.

    Shion

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