Essential Email Phrases for Business in English

Instructor: Jesse Richter

Jesse holds two masters, a doctorate and has 15 years of academic experience in areas of education, linguistics, business and science across five continents.

Looking for some field-tested phrases and statements to make your business emails more impactful? This lesson introduces the context of business emails and provides useful language that may be adapted for your own professional needs.

English in Business Email

It's one thing to communicate effectively in English. It's another thing to do so online, and yet another when you're in a business environment. How, exactly, is the English language different in a business email context versus everyday conversation?

In professional circles, writing a business email is quite different from a casual email that you might send to a close friend or even a face-to-face conversation between professionals. In business communications, the language is more formal and professional, and it's more direct and to the point. Additionally, when emailing outside of your region or country, you generally want to avoid regional phrases that the recipient may not understand.

Businesses can communicate internationally and inter-culturally through email.

Deconstructing the Email

Let's take a look at some essential email phrases and handy sentences that are widely recognized and inter-culturally appropriate. For the purposes of this lesson, the email is broken down into several components, and we'll take into consideration some likely communicational situations among professionals. Please note that all of these recommendations are more formal and, accordingly, would not be necessary or appropriate in casual conversations.

Subject Lines

Try to make subject lines short and sweet, yet as informative as possible. Here are some example subject lines:

  • Meeting 16 December
  • Yesterday's Phone Call
  • Please Re-Send Attachment
  • Call for Articles Due Tuesday

Greetings and Openings

The greeting or opening can be found at the top of the email body. When writing your greeting, be sure to consider the nature of your professional relationship with the recipient.

  • It was very nice speaking with you the other day, Mrs. Jones.
  • Good morning, I hope you are doing well. I am contacting you to discuss...
  • Hello, and thank you again for all of your support.
  • I greatly look forward to our meeting later today, Mrs. Jones, but for now I would like to discuss...

Referring Back

After your opening, you may want to transition into the email's main content. Here are some ways to connect the current conversation with something in the past:

  • I trust you recall our phone conference from last Thursday?
  • Referring back to the fundraiser we had in May...
  • I trust you recall our recent conversation about sales.
  • I was thinking back to our lunch meeting the other day...


Be tactful, strategic, and respectful when emphasizing points in the body of your business email. The intention is to highlight something important, not to come across as authoritative or impatient. Let's take a look at some example phrases for emphasis:

  • I greatly appreciate your attention to this matter; however, I wish to emphasize...
  • With all due respect, please allow me to draw your attention to...
  • I acknowledge the excellent points you've made, and I would like to add to them by underlining the fact that...
  • Excellent ideas; it would be prudent for us to also keep in mind the importance of...

Asking Questions

The following prompts send a message to the reader that you are politely asking a question:

  • I do have one point of inquiry regarding...
  • If you don't mind, I would like to learn more about...
  • I'm very curious to find out more about...
  • If I understand correctly...

Answering Questions

In complex business email conversations, it is prudent to lead into an answer, especially if the situation may be unpleasant. The following phrases may help you get to the answer:

  • To address your concern, I can say that...
  • The best way to answer your question is by explaining that...
  • To the best of my understanding, the policy is...
  • I am very pleased to say that, yes, you are correct.

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