Updated: 13 October 2021
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.
- I hope you are enjoying the season.
- I hope all is well.
- How are you? I hope you are healthy and happy.
- I hope you are doing well.
- I hope you are fine.
- I hope you and your coworkers are fine.
- I trust you are doing splendidly and enjoying the season.
- We send you our best wishes.
- I send you and your esteemed colleagues my warm wishes.
- Greetings from all of us at _________ [fill in organization name].
- Greetings from _____ [fill in a person’s name] and me.
- Greetings to you and your coworkers.
- Best wishes to you and your family.
- It is a pleasure to be in touch with you again.
- It was a delight to see you in ____.
- I hope you enjoyed your trip to ____.
- Welcome back to work! I hope you had a wonderful vacation.
If you correspond with business readers around the world, you can pay attention to the opening sentences they use, and respond similarly.
Related: Read our article on how to write an opening sentence.
“I hope this email finds you well”
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.
Here are a few alternatives to the old “I hope this email finds you well” you can consider:
A more personal approach
If you are drafting a high-stakes email that needs to get results, it’s worth your time to do a bit of research about the person or the company you are addressing. Opening your email with a sentence that pertains directly to the sender shows that this isn’t a generic, boilerplate message. It will warrant more attention and establish a bit of a personal connection. Consider, perhaps, a recent professional development to show you are familiar with the recipient’s work, or perhaps a nugget of personal information you can use to show you are invested in this relationship. Here are some examples:
I learned this morning that CTX Solutions received the green light for the merger. You must be energized by what’s ahead!
I really enjoyed your presentation last week in San Diego on Nonlinear Marketing trends. You really painted a perfect picture when you said…
Hats off to you and your team for the recent success of the Black Mason campaign! It’s the talk of the town down here!
Rumor at the office has it you have completed a triathlon over weekend. I don’t know how you manage to find the time for training – it is both impressive and inspiring!
Congrats on last week’s big win! Your team is the stuff of bowling legend!
Skip the opening sentence!
A recent data study from the email app Boomerang showed that the optimal length of an email, when it comes to receiving a response, is 75-150 words.
This is understandable, as people are busy and time is valuable. With this in mind, you may consider skipping the opening sentence, and getting straight to the point. As long as the overall tone of the email is warm, this approach shouldn’t come off as cold.
You should really know your audience when crafting your email. Therefore, if you feel that the recipient is someone who would enjoy a little chit-chat, perhaps a bit of small talk is the way to go. Again, it’s best to skip the generic “I hope this email finds you well” and opt for a more personalized opener. Here are some examples:
I hope you’re staying warm, it seems New York didn’t get that memo that its spring!
Are you getting ready to take the boat out for the weekend? Should be great weather!
The most important thing to remember when crafting an email is to stay as genuine as possible. Forced conversation is not pleasant in person, nor is it in written form. Try to imagine running into your recipient in the hallway, and write as if you are having a face-to-face conversation.
Eight alternative opening phrases.
If you want to add a few openers to your phrase bank as to avoid the awkward “I hope this email finds you well,” here are a few more phrases you can use as an alternative (the 17 examples listed at the top of the article would work as well):
- I know you’re busy, so I’ll be brief (just make sure to actually be brief!)
- I hope you’re having a productive week
- I hope you are having a great week
- I hope you are doing well
- I hope you’ve had a restful holiday
- We’ve met at [place, event]
- I am delighted to connect with you again
- Happy Monday! [or any day of the week]
I would enjoy your additions to the list above, along with your thoughts about polite opening sentences. Please share!
Related: Here is a helpful article about crafting the perfect follow-up email.