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Capítulo 2:

 Basics. Normas básicas para enviar un e-mail en inglés

1. Formal and Informal

The language of emailing is mostly informal or neutral.  Formal language is used rarely, and only for situations that are very serious such as complaints. Informal language is mainly used when writing to colleagues or friends, whereas the neutral register is used more with clients or associates.  Some emails mix styles. If in doubt as to what style to use, try to emulate the style of the other person.

Activity 1.

Match these informal words and phrases with their formal equivalent.


Some emails mix styles. If in doubt as to what style to use, try to emulate the style of the other person. Remember: when in Rome, do as Romans do.

Activity 2.
Rewrite the following emails from a formal register to an informal one.  Use the phrases above to help you.  Remember to use contractions.


Please accept my apologies, as I will not be able to attend the meeting on Friday morning.  I was hoping that you could send a copy of the minutes, and if you could give my apologies to the rest of the team. Again I express my apologies, and I can assure you that I will make a special effort to be present at the next one.



Thank you for your email of the 3rd of March.  Your order for 13 boxes of invitation cards has been noted with our supply department.  However I note that you have not entered in the  post code of your business.  Without it are unable to send out your goods.  If you could please send me your post code, then we are able to proceed with your order.



I would like to remind you that your presentation is this Friday.  I have not yet received any word from you, so if you could please let me know of any requirements in terms of equipment that you might have.  Otherwise I look forward to seeing what you have come up with. 

Activity 3.

Match the words of Latin origin in box A with the shorter words in B.



2. Tone


Think about the last email you wrote in your language.  Was it formal or informal?  Did you notice how the language changes depending on who you write to? Tone must be appropriate to the subject as well as the individual to whom you are writing. Tone is very important in emailing.  If the tone in unclear, then your recipient may read a different meaning from the one you intended.  If your tone in inappropriate, (either too formal or too informal) then it could be damaging to your business relations with that particular person.

Look at the difference between the following emails:

How’s it going?  I’m going to be in Barcelona next Tuesday lol!*; do you have time to catch up?  I’d really love it if you could!CUL8R*

Hello David,
I hope you are well.  I will be in Barcelona on the following Tuesday, the 25th.  I would like an opportunity to speak to you again, it’s been a long time since our last meeting.


Activity 1

What’s wrong with the tone in these sentences?

-We are deeply saddened that the book you so generously requested is no longer available.

-Hey, remember me?  Got any jobs going at the moment, I’m desperate!

-I can’t believe you didn’t even bother coming to the meeting.  You’d better have a good excuse.

-Your presence is required at the presentation next Monday. Please be so good as to attend.


Activity 2
Rewrite the following email to a more appropriate tone:

Dearest customer,

I require an additional piece of information on the last order that you were so kind to send to me.  If it is no trouble, could you please provide me with a post code the final destination of our microwaveable metal spoons that you have purchased.  I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to you.

Fond regards


By all means, try to use a positive tone rather than a negative one:


If you write something when you are angry don’t send it straight away.  Put it aside, read it later and then decide if you still want to send it. An angry or insulting e-mail is called a flame.


Look at these examples of different emotional tones:

Why are we keeping this present supplier? They are completely useless.  I’ve had several customer complaints and I’m sick of making excuses.  Can’t we find ANYONE else that has a better quality product that won’t break at the slightest touch?? And they were late with the last shipment.  Who ever hired these idiots should be fired!!

Although our supplier has been with us for the last year, the quality of their product seems to have taken a bad turn.  We have received several customer complaints about breakages.  I suggest that we confer with head office to see if they can offer any suggestions. 


Activity 3.

Read these flames and try to rewrite them in a more appropriate tone so that they sound more polite but equally assertive:

Why do you never answer my calls??? May I suggest you turn your iphone off occasionally?

Look, I asked to work on this brochure ages ago and you know full well I’ve got to have it for Friday’s fair in Dortmund.

This is the second time you’ve fouled things up and I’ll be reminding you of that when you ask me for a day off.

So, I’ll ask you once again. WHEN WILL THE BROCHURE BE READY?

What I want to know is, are you making any progress on the brochure or not? And if not, why not? No, don’t even bother answering that. I already know you’ve been far too busy with more urgent matters to even get around to starting it. Am I right?


Where is my payment?? I have sent you three separate emails asking for it, I have tried to call your office and you always evade me.  I mean HOW do you expect to do business in this way???  I find your conduct insulting and rude, I mean is this anyway to treat your supplier?? Do you think we’re all somehow expendable and depending solely on you for our business?? Well think again Mister.  Our business doesn’t need your services and in fact we can’t afford the extra time it takes you chase you every month in order to get paid.  I wish you every disaster in your business and I look forward to hearing of your bankruptcy.  We will NOT accept business from you ever again!!

3. Abbreviations and missing words

Missing out words is common in emails and informal speech. It happens in relaxed and friendly situations, and so the people involved in the communication know each other very well. The meaning, thus, is clear from the context.

The basic rules are:

  • The subject “I” can be left out, especially with mental verbs like think, believe, wish etc.
  • In a question, the subject “you” and the auxiliary can be left out.
  • The subject “I” and the auxiliary (be, have, will) can be missed out.
  • The words “that” or “it” can be missed out, often with a form of “be” as well.
  • A form of “be” can be left out on its own.
  • The word “the” can occasionally be left out.

Activity 1.

Put the missing words back into this email:

Great evening, wasn’t it! Really enjoyed the dinner, and nice to see Chloe and Natasha again. Had a chance to speak to Peter yet? No worries. Will be seeing him tomorrow.

About next weekend – exhibition you suggested at Moma sounds great. Been talking to some friend at work about it. Not sure about the day, though. Saturday might be difficult. Perhaps Sunday better? Let me know.

Anyway, got to go now. Hope you’re well. See you next weekend.

In some emails you can find very abbreviated forms. The intention is to write very quickly and clearly.

There are three main techniques:

  • using a letter to stand for a sound ( ‘c’ = see)
  • making a short for of a common word ( ‘yr’ = your)
  • writing the first letters of a well-known phrase ( ‘asap’ = as soon as possible)

Subject: Thx for yr msg

Re your msg left on my ans machine –yes, I’m free for dinner on Sat next weekend. Btw, good news about yr interview. Hv 2 work now. CU. Dave.

Many abbreviations used in internationally were derived from Latin words. They are used so frequently that we often forget that the letters represent Latin words.

Here you have a basic list:


Other abbreviations commonly used in emails and on instant messenger.  They can be capitalized or not.

  • ASAP                   As soon as possible.
  • BRB                      Be right back.
  • BTW                     By the way.
  • CUL8R                 See you later.
  • FAQ                      Frequently asked questions.
  • FYI                        For your information.
  • HTH                      Hope this helps.
  • IAC                       In any case.
  • IOW                     In other words.
  • JTLYK                   Just to let you know.
  • L8R                       Later.
  • LOL                       Laugh(ing) out loud.
  • LTNS                    Long time no see.
  • MSG                    Message.
  • NRN                     No reply necessary.
  • OTOH                   On the other hand.
  • RE                         Regarding.
  • TIA                       Thanks in advance.
  • TNT                      Till next time.
  • TTYL                     Talk to you later.
  • Tx/THX/Thnx     Thanks.
  • XXXX                    Kisses.
  • OXOX                   Hugs and kisses.

Activity 2.

Complete the phrases used in written messages with the words from the box:


  1. With ...reference.. to your e-mail concerning language training...
  2. ................... to our discussion this afternoon, I think...
  3. ................... talking to you on the phone last night and thanks for your very useful  ................... to this problem.
  4. As you probably .................... , Martha is coming next week and...
  5. Just a brief ................. to say...
  6. Thanks for the information. In .................. to your queries...
  7. Many thanks in ................... for your help.
  8. Further ..................... can be found on...
  9. I look forward to ................. from you.

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