Useful email phrases

For tips on how to structure your email and how to open and close an email, see

  • Structuring your email
  • Salutations

For information about how to deliver good / bad messages, see

  • Direct and indirect approaches

Below we list some phrases that are commonly used in email correspondence:

Referring to previous correspondence

  • In reply to your email of 10 November, we wish to inform you that …
  • Thank you for getting in touch regarding...
  • Regarding your question about / concerning ...
  • In response to your questions, ...
  • With reference to our meeting last week,...
  • Further to our meeting, ....
  • Here is the information you requested: ...
  • As requested, I am sending you …
  • Below you will find my / our responses to your points regarding …
  • Here are the answers to your questions point by point:
  • As agreed, please find attached …

Copying someone on your email

Aim for transparancy in communication and let the recipient know if you have copied someone else in on the email. This can be done in two ways:

Either signal in the salutation that the email has also been sent to someone else:

  • Dear X (cc Y),
  • Dear students (cc teachers),

Or state it in the running text:

  • I have copied Dr X, our Director of Studies, in on this email.
  • I have cc’d my colleague X, who will get in touch with you shortly.
  • I've cc’d Barbara on this email.

The original meaning of the abbreviation 'cc' is 'carbon copy', which means a duplicate of something. In email writing, 'cc' is used when someone other than the original recipeint or addressee also receives a copy of the message.

When you use 'cc' as a verb in the past tense, you can either write 'copied', or use a short form: 'cc'd' or 'cc'ed'.

Forwarding an email

When you forward an email to someone else, inform the original writer that their email has been forwarded and tell them who you have sent it to:

  • I have passed on your enquiry to X who is in charge of…
  • I have forwarded your email to our administrator who will be able to help you. If you have any further questions, please contact him at [email address]

Add a message to the original email informing the new recipient about the context of the forwarded email:

  • I am forwarding the email below to you, hoping you will be able to reply to the student's questions.
  • I have received some questions about XX (see below). As I am no longer on the committee for X, could I ask you to please respond to the email below?
  • I received the following email and hope you will be able to get in touch with XX.

Attaching a document to your email

Whereas the verb 'enclosed' is common in traditional communication, 'attached' is used in email communication:

  • I have attached the report to this email.
  • Please find the report attached to this email.
  • In the attached document, you will find my comments on your text.
  • You will find the minutes from the staff meeting in the attached file.

Saying thank you

  • Thank you for sending me ...
  • Thank you for your interest in ...
  • Many thanks for your email informing us that …
  • I would like to express my thanks for...
  • I would like to convey my gratitude for the work ...

Note that in English, thanking someone for something that you hope they will do for you can be perceived as rude. Therefore, expressions like 'Thank you in advance' / 'Thanks in advance' should be used with caution.

If you wish to indicate that you hope you will receive help, a phrase like 'I appreciate any help you can provide'is less pushy.

Asking for help / further information

  • Could you please provide more details concerning…?
  • Could you please send me the ...?
  • Any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
  • I would be grateful if you could...
  • It would be very helpful if you could send us...
  • I am interested in receiving...

Offering further help

If you wish to invite your correspondent to ask for further help, sentences like these can be used:

  • We would be happy to provide further information about...
  • Please do not hesitate to contact me/us should you need any further assistance.
  • If you need any further help on this matter, do not hesitate to get in touch.
  • Please let us know if you need any help.
  • Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Indicating that you need an answer

Depending on the level of formality and the situation, there are various ways of politely indicating that you need an answer to your email.

If you have not received a reply by a previously stated deadline:

  • This is a gentle reminder to please notify me when…
  • I am sorry if my previous email was unclear. In order to XXX, we would need X by now. Please get in touch so that we know if / to confirm ....

If you have already asked for a response but not heard back from the recipient and you now need a response:

  • As this is a matter of some urgency, I would appreciate a reply as soon as possible.

Note that at your earliest convenience is a polite way of telling the recipient that you wish them to respond quickly:

  • We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Some more examples (informal):

  • Sorry to bother you, but could you please ...
  • I am sorry if I have missed your reply; could you please let me know...

Stressing something

The first phrase (Please note that...) is more neutral than the last two which both signal that what you write is not negotiable:

  • Please note that further information is available on our homepage / in the attached compendium.
  • Let me stress that the deadline was last week and that late submissions will not be assessed.
  • I would like to clarify that ...

If you cannot attend a meeting

After having apologized for not being able to attend a meeting, writers often add a sentence offering some compensation, such as submitting information or rescheduling.

  • Thank you for inviting me to your meeting next week, but regrettably I will not be able to attend. However, if there is any information you would like me to send you before your meeting, please let me know.
  • I am sorry to inconvenience you with regard to our upcoming meeting, but I am afraid I cannot make it on 15 March. I will be available later the same week, if rescheduling the meeting is an option.

Writers who wish to give a reason for not being able to attend, often use phrases like these:

  • …due to time constraints…
  • …due to a prior engagement…

Apologising

When apologies are offered, they need to be clear and to-the-point:

  • We regret to inform you that due to covid restrictions, we are unable to…
  • As a result of [recent cutbacks / unforseen circumstances], I regret that...
  • Thank you for telling us about ... We apologize on behalf of….
  • I apologize for any inconvenience caused by...

If you have not  responded to an email, etc., the following sample sentences might be useful:

  • My sincere apologies for responding late; we receive large numbers of emails in early September.
  • I only just realised that I have not responded to your query. I sincerely apologise.
  • I apologise for not answering sooner.

Reading tips

Adrian Wallwork’s book Email and Commercial Correspondence: A Guide to Professional English is available online to LU users via LUB.

Page Manager: aweluluse | 2021-12-02