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First Sentences for Business Letters

Do you struggle with the first sentences of business letters? Review these examples. They will give you ideas on how to start your business letters and email messages.

graphic listing characteristics of a good first sentence

  1. To respond to a letter of complaint:
    Thank you for writing to us about your experience in our copy center last week.
  2. To say thank you:
    Thank you so much for contributing the one-year corporate club membership to our auction.
  3. To confirm an agreement:
    I am happy to write to confirm our agreement about the summer workshop.
  4. To provide a reference:
    Sallie Dell has asked me to provide information to you in support of her job application, and I am pleased to do so.
  5. To share information:
    I received some important information from Dr. Owens, and I believe it will be useful to you as you analyze the marketing data.
  6. To explain a change in policy:
    Because we value our relationship with you, I wanted to personally explain a new policy we will implement in February.
  7. To request: I am applying for graduate schools in marine biology, and I would be very grateful if you would write a letter of reference for me.
  8. To deny a request:
    Thank you for writing to ask about attending the conference in Baltimore. I wish I could approve your request.
  9. To respond to a job advertisement:
    I fully meet or exceed the requirements of the Business Analyst III position, and I am pleased to apply for it.
  10. To report on a site visit:
    Suzanne Villareal and Dale Cunningham visited the site on January 12, and they were very impressed with your safety program and hazardous materials policies. This letter covers their observations.
  11. To apologize:
    Please accept my apology for missing the meeting yesterday. I am very sorry that I was unable to attend.
  12. To congratulate:
    Congratulations on successfully passing your bar exam. You are now officially an attorney!

These sentences have three things in common:

  • They get to the point. Each one answers the reader’s question “What’s this about?”
  • They are concise without being blunt.
  • They contain positive language: thank you, please, contributing, happy, pleased, congratulations, grateful, successfully, impressed, etc.

First sentences can sometimes seem difficult to craft. If you feel stymied, just skip the first sentence and go on to the second. Once you see what you have written, return to the beginning. Then set the stage with your opening sentence.

Other search spellings: buisness, emial, snetences, sentencnes, compliant, apolgise, begining, reqeust

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

13 comments on “First Sentences for Business Letters”

  • Dear Lynn,
    I was wondering if you mind guide me About How can I solve my problem?
    My Resume:
    At first,I graduated B Sc in Geology field from one of the Iranian Universities.(I’m Iranian)
    Second,I’m supposed to continue my Education in higher level (Ms c )in one of the Malaysia Universities.
    Third,I’m supposed to go to ELS Institute for improve my English
    Knowledge in Malaysia. 10/03/2009
    My Problem:
    I should write an effective and Formal text for Malaysia Emigration Agency,With grateful Sentences and Expression.
    (For Admission)
    Best regard

  • Dear Lynn,

    Really too good, you are very keen specific observer and writer. Thanks for the article. Write more and send mails.

  • Hi Lynn,

    Please let me know how to write you questions and how to get quick response from you. I want to learn official english.

  • Hello, PH. I am not a good source for quick responses to your questions. My focus is on teaching business writing in U.S. and Canadian companies.

    The best way to learn “official English” may be to take a class in your country. I do not offer programs in English as a second language.

    I wish you much success.


  • Dear Lynn,
    Hope you are busy and doing great. I’m priyanka, very much admired with your blog. As a business developer i should be strong in writing business letters but i am not so. Please help me so that i can get minimum no. of replies from my readers/clients.
    -Our company AAM provides geospatial services from past 5 years. It is powered by a pool of 72 professional staff and management. More focuses on quality and timely delivery. Maintains good client relationship. A small section of project must be considered to us so that they can compare quality/price with their current in-house capacity.I tried to get at least one reply, but failed.Kindly assist me with your valuable suggestions.
    My sincere thanks for your time.
    Awaiting for your comments.

  • Hello, Priyanka. I suggest that you ask your coworkers for pieces of writing that have been successful. It is a good idea to copy what works for others in your position.

    You can also search this blog for the kind of sample you are looking for. Is is a sales letter? Is it a letter of introduction?

    I offer online classes, which you can attend. I do not know which country you work in, so I am not sure whether the time of the classes would be reasonable for you. However, you can always learn about upcoming classes at

    Good luck!


  • Hi Lynn
    I am based in India.This is a introduction letter & to get projects from the reader. Thank you for your suggestions.
    Have a good day.

  • Hi Lynn,

    Thank you for the tips. I have a question here which I hope you can help me to answer.

    I teach English for the accounting & finance staffs in my office. The final goal is actually for them to be able to correspondence well using emails; yet, the problems aroused as they have a very basic English. In the end, I decided to combine teaching general English with a few extra of business English vocabulary in each meetings but i still finds difficulties in choosing the materials to discuss in class. Can you help me to solve this problems? Suggestion or advise maybe? I’d really appreciate it! 🙂

  • Hi, Mei. I suggest that you find someone local who is a true expert in business English. Such an individual would be better able to create appropriate lessons and find materials for the accounting and finance staff.


Comments are closed.