Opening Sentences for Global Email

Readers have asked me to suggest opening sentences for emails that go to people around the world. The goal of these openers is to avoid coming across as blunt and impolite, especially in messages to people from cultures in which English is not the first language.

It is wise for people in the English-speaking business world to include a sentence of greeting rather than getting immediately into their business purpose when they write to people who expect and value such email courtesies.

Below are a few opening sentences for international email. Each one would come after a greeting such as "Dear Dr. Rivas" or "Hello, Osouf." You can use "I" or "We" depending on whether you are writing as an individual or as a representative of your group. 

  1. I hope you are enjoying the season.
  2. I hope all is well.
  3. How are you? I hope you are healthy and happy.
  4. I hope you are doing well.
  5. I hope you are fine.
  6. I hope you and your coworkers are fine.
  7. I trust you are doing splendidly and enjoying the season.
  8. We send you our best wishes.
  9. I send you and your esteemed colleagues my warm wishes.
  10. Greetings from all of us at _________ [fill in organization name]. 
  11. Greetings from _____ [fill in a person's name] and me.
  12. Greetings to you and your coworkers.
  13. Best wishes to you and your family.
  14. It is a pleasure to be in touch with you again.
  15. It was a delight to see you in ____.
  16. I hope you enjoyed your trip to ____.  
  17. Welcome back to work! I hope you had a wonderful vacation.

 

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For more ideas on building relationships in your messages, get my book Business Writing With Heart: How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time. You can get a signed paperback with a laminated bookmark from me. (It's a great gift for clients and colleagues!) Or buy it for your Kindle (from Amazon) or your Nook (from Barnes & Noble).

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If you correspond with business readers around the world, you can pay attention to the opening sentences they use, and respond similarly.

One popular opening sentence is "I hope this email finds you well." Although it is common at the beginning of business email, I recommend using a sentence that sounds more natural. To me, "I hope this email finds you" is awkward phrasing.

It is a good idea to vary your beginning sentence if you write to someone often. A repeated opening sentence could come across as a habit rather than a sincere sentiment.

I would enjoy your additions to the list above, along with your thoughts about polite opening sentences. Please share! 

If you write in English as a foreign language and would like someone to proofread your messages, try my partner Scribendi. They provide excellent, accurate service and free, fast quotes on projects. 

Lynn
Syntax Training

35 COMMENTS

  1. G’day Lynn,
    English is not my first language. your blog and writing helps me a lot. I really appreciate your work.
    Thanks
    Wak

  2. This is very helpful, Lynn. *Everyone* appreciates a pleasant greeting up front, even in a routine work email. It is sort of the equivalent of the generic “How are you” “Fine, thanks” that we do in the beginning of a f2f chat. You just want to hit the “I am a friendly human being and want this interaction to go well” note. Your sentences are great and most would also work at the closing of an email too, where it is also important to hit a similarly pleasant note. Thanks!

  3. Great topic, Lynn. I am a firm believer in the polite opening sentence, especially if the email I’m sending includes a request of some sort.

    I will definitely use some of your suggestions.

  4. Thank you, Wak, McClain, and James, for getting into this conversation.

    Wak, I am glad to be helpful!

    McClain, I like your suggestion about adding a courteous remark to our email closings. As for openings, though, I believe not everyone appreciates or needs a greeting. Some people in my writing classes have told me they wish others would “cut to the chase.” It is terrific if we can know the type of communication certain individuals prefer.

    James, I am glad you will use some of the examples. When you are requesting, it IS typically a good idea to begin courteously.

    Lynn

  5. Your opening lines are excellent, Lynn. I’m keenly aware that the American approach to email communication is too abrupt in Africa and India. Sometimes I want to express appreciation or empathy at the beginning before getting into the meat of a message. For example, to a colleague going through a difficult time in India recently I started with, “Hope you’re holding up given all that is going on!” To a colleague in Botswana I began the email with, “It was great catching up with you today.”

  6. Hello, Richard. Thank you for your expert view and the sample opening sentences.

    I clicked your link to reacquaint myself with your organization, I-TECH. I can see that communication at I-TECH must require a high degree of cultural sensitivity.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment.

    Lynn

  7. Hi Lynn.

    I’m very interested in this topic and I appreciate the list of openers you wrote in this post.

    But I have to tell you that I receive a lot of SPAM emails that unfortunately starts with some of these openers (expecially the ones starting with “I hope…”).

    So, now, maybe since I’m not a native speaker, some of them remind me those ugly spam emails…

    Maybe I have to get used to them again…

  8. Hi, Jonathan.

    You are correct. Spam email can begin with “I hope” or “I trust,” just as non-spam can. I normally recognize spam because of odd sentence structures and word usage.

    Let’s not let spammers determine how we write!

    Thanks for stopping by to comment. I wish you success with your business.

    Lynn

  9. Greeting to everyone, I am Shakir Afridi.

    Today I just visited to this site by chance and noted all the opening sentences for possible formal starting and I loved it. Thank You

  10. Lynn Gaertner-Johnston’s Business Writing Blog is a wonderful source with ideas, techniques, and smart hints! She also explains a lot in few words, and helps you get only what you need to write more professionally in business. I so appreciate your efforts Lynn to come up with this very helpful blog!

    I needed just a little help, and I found here a lot of it!

    Regards,
    Hayaat Q

  11. Hi Lynn,

    Thanks a lot for your helpful response.I really like your businesswritingblog. I know now I can learn from you a lot,because English is not my first language.
    ‘I hope I have write correct.”
    Thank you again.
    Best regards,
    Aranka

  12. Lynn, i just found your site when i needed to reassure if an email i was writing was correct.

    Thank you very much for your work. As a non native English speaker your site is a treasure.

    Monica

  13. Dear lynn,

    Writing is the most difficult skills in english, I thought.
    Your distribution is very helpful for people….
    Wish you great health to go on.

    From Vietnam

  14. Is this a correct sentence to start with “Hope this mail finds you in a robust health and sound mood”. Please assist.

  15. Prakash, I would not use that sentence. Here are some of my concerns:

    1. Who is hoping? We? I?
    2. You do not need the “a” before “robust health.”
    3. “Sound mood” may suggest that sometimes the reader is a raving maniac.

    Why not try some of the suggestions I offered in the blog post above?

    Lynn

  16. Hello Lynn,

    I just happened to read some of your tips on business writing and found them very helpful. Just because we’re writing an email and not a formal letter doesn’t necessarily mean we have to forget about grammar rules or politeness. I’ve just saved your blog to my favorites folder.
    Thank you.

    Laura

  17. Usually I don’t learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

  18. Lynn, Thank you for your hard work. This blog has served me will when starting an email. I also would like to add the following:
    •Happy (Type in the day) and I hope you are having an outstanding week!
    •I hope you had a perfect weekend!
    Please reach out to me for any feedback, concerns or clarification on anything
    EA

  19. Eihab, thank you for your suggestions. I would change the first one slightly so that it is two sentences:

    “Happy Tuesday! I hope you are having an outstanding week.”

    I suggest using two sentences because you are conveying two ideas.

    I appreciate your commenting.

    Lynn

Comments are closed.