E-mails in English: Here’s Everything You Need To Know

As the world language, English is the most widely spoken language. No wonder, then, that English has become indispensable in the business world as the language of negotiation and communication. Whether you are contacting companies or customers, or spending a lot of time abroad on business, a certain level of English is required today. Written communication via e-mail and letters sets the tone for a successful business relationship in particular. Whether you’re learning English or are a native speaker, there’s always lots to learn. Here we will reveal the most frequently used phrases, structures and exemplary sentences to help you use business English successfully and write e-mails and letters in English correctly.

This article focuses on German speakers, for more information on translation into German, see our German translation service.

The structure

If you have already written a formal e-mail in German, there is nothing special to take into consideration when writing an e-mail or letter in English. The form is always the same, no matter what language is used. A meaningful subject line should appear under the recipient’s address. In order to write e-mails and letters correctly in English, one should also start with a formal greeting before continuing with the content. A polite introductory or concluding sentence is always a good idea and creates a pleasant tone. After a formal closing remark, a attachment can also be added.

The subject line

To enable colleagues, customers or business partners to understand the message directly, the subject line of an e-mail should never be left blank. Even on a letter, it is never wrong to give short, keyword information. With the help of the following phrases and exemplar sentences, you can immediately let your recipient know what your message is about:

In reply/response to your letter/E-MailBezüglich Ihres Briefes/Ihrer E-Mail
Job application for […]   Bewerbung auf/für […]
InquiryAnfrage/Nachfrage
Urgent Dringend
Meeting Request Anfrage für eine Besprechung

Salutation and greeting

As with German e-mails and letters, it is just as important in English to pay attention to formality. The form of address for business messages should therefore be polite but not personal. A “Hello” or even a “Hi” is not appropriate. For contacts whose last name is known, it should also be used. However, the British or American form of address should also be used here. While in the UK the dot after Mr/Ms/Mrs is usually omitted, in the USA it is inserted. In addition, the surname is followed by a comma or colon.

Dear Mr SmithSehr geehrter Herr Smith
Dear Mrs SmithSehr geehrte Frau Smith (bei verheirateten Frauen)
Dear Ms Smith  Sehr geehrte Frau Smith (bei unverheirateten Frauen, oder wenn dieser Status unbekannt ist)
Dear Sir or Madam   Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren (Empfänger/in ist unbekannt)
To whom it may concernAn die zuständige Abteilung (Empänger/in ist unbekannt)

Introductory sentence – good or bad news

The introductory sentence can be used for thanks or a quick answer, query or contact request. But it can also be used to apologise for bad news or a rejection. With the following phrases you will find the appropriate introduction to your message.

Thank you very much for […]Vielen Dank für […]
Your quick replyIhre schnelle Antwort
The requested informationDie angeforderten Informationen
I am deeply grateful for […]Ich bin zutiefst dankbar für […]
I regret to inform you that […] Ich bedauere Ihnen mitteilen zu müssen, dass […]
Unfortunately, we have no choice but […]Bedauerlicherweise haben wir keine andere Wahl, als […]
I am very sorry but […] Es tut mir wirklich leid, aber […]
Please accept my sincere apologiesIch bitte aufrichtig um Entschuldigung

Requesting information

If you have any questions requiring detailed information or would like confirmation, it is a good idea to ask in writing. In international correspondence, however, the purposeful “German style” can quickly be perceived as brash or brusque. Therefore, it is important to work a lot with “would”, “can” or “could”.

Is it possible to …?Wäre es möglich …?
I would like to know […] Ich würde gerne wissen […]
I would appreaciate if you could/would […]Ich würde es sehr zu schätzen wissen, wenn Sie […]
Would/Could you please […] Würden/Könnten Sie bitte […]
Please could you send me […]Könnten Sie mir bitte […] zusenden?

Making a complaint

Even in business something can go wrong. But even in case of problems, it is important to pay attention to the right choice of words to enable a constructive cooperation.

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with […]Ich möchte Ihnen meine Unzufriedenheit bezüglich […] mitteilen
I wish to draw your attention to […] Ich muss Ihnen leider mitteilen, dass […]
I regret to say that I was not satisfied with […] Es tut mir leid Ihnen mitteilen zu müssen, dass ich mit […] nicht zufrieden war
I would be grateful if you could look into thisIch wäre Ihnen dankbar, wenn Sie sich folgendes noch einmal ansehen könnten.

Closing remarks

You should pay attention to a polite final sentence that is not too personal. Here too, there are differences between correspondence in American or British English. While in the USA a comma is placed after the passage, this is omitted in the UK.

Yours faithfullyUK
Yours sincerelyUS
Best wishes  Freund/innen oder Kolleg/innen, die man auch beim Vornamen anspricht
Best regardsFreund/innen oder Kolleg/innen, die man auch beim Vornamen anspricht

Help with further translations

With the aforementioned structures and examples, you should no longer have problems writing e-mails and letters correctly in English. If you have any further questions about translation, interpretation or language services, our translation agency is of course always at your disposal. Do not hesitate to have documents such as your CV, birth certificate or diplomas translated into English. Berlin Translate offers general and certified translations at an excellent price-performance ratio.

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