Business Letters in English
Writing English business letters is not the easiest task, especially for foreigners. Here you learn how to do it the right way. I will take you through every step first with example sentences.
Some Basic Tips: Use of Language
When writing an English business letter it is very important to use correct language. Remain polite at all times. It is probably usually better to be a little conservative, especially if you are from The Netherlands (very straightforward) and you are writing to English or American people. It is also important to formulate short and clear sentences.
Format of a Business Letter in English
The structure or format of an English business letter is rather simple. In the first paragraph you mention the reason why you are writing. There you can also introduce yourself. In the next paragraphs you write about what you said you would write about in the first paragraph. In the final paragraph you summarize what you said, with a closing sentence. (More about this below).
Common Punctuation and Spelling Mistakes to Avoid
- Omitting or misplacing the apostrophe (') in contractions like won't or can't.
- The use of the word can and can't. It is better to say could or cannot.
- Put the comma before and, not after, when you start a new clause in a sentence.
How to Address a Business Letter
How to Write Your Return Address
In a letter, the address should be on the top left. Some companies and organisations prefer to put the company's name and logo on top in the middle. When you choose to do this, the date is supposed to be on the right.
For an individual:
- Name: Bill Gates
- Number & Streetname: 33 Pretty Street
- Postal Code & City: DD 108 London
- Country: The United Kingdom
If you would like you can also add an e-mail address, website or phone number. Instead of the personal name you can also put your company's name or organisation's name.
How to Write the Recipient's Address
- Name: Mr. Mark Evans (always use the person's correct title - more below)
- Number & Streetname: 33 Main Street
- Postal Code & City: LK 203 Brighton
- State: East Sussex
- Country: United Kingdom
The date comes straight after the address of the addressee. There is no need for city names. Just the date will be enough. The first letter of the name of each month is always a capital letter.
- English letter: 17 September, 2012
- American letter: September 17, 2012
Opening of a Business Letter
In an English business letter it is important to use the right titles for addressing the receiver. You have to bear in mind that married women are addressed with Mrs and unmarried women are called Miss. You can also choose to use Ms. when you are not quite sure. Moreover, in British English there is no dot after Mr or Ms, but in American English there is.
Potential titles: Mr, Dr, Mrs, Miss, Ms
Also remember that the academic titles not necessarily correspond with the titles in your country of origin.
The salutation in an English Business letter is almost always 'Dear'. When you know the name of the recipient, you should use his full name.
Examples of salutations
- Dear Mr. Black,
- Dear Professor Black,
- Dear Dr. Black,
- Dear Donald Black,
- Dear Ms. Black,
If you do not know the name of the recipient:
- Dear Sir / Madam,
If it is an unknown person, you can use the following salutations:
- Dear Customer,
- Dear Resident,
- Dear All,
- Dear Student,
Opening Sentences: Examples
- Thank you for your letter regarding the ...
- We are writing in response to...,
- With reference to your letter of 20 December, we...
- In reply to your letter of..., we
- I am writing to enquire about...,
Closing Sentences: Examples
In the closing paragraph you conclude with a final closing sentence. Usually you use this to repeat your most important point or to make plans for meeting again. Also to make clear what kind of actions you except from the recipient.
- If you have any further enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us,
- We look forward to building a strong business relationship in the future,
- We look forward to the meeting on the 4th of November,
- Once again, We are terribly sorry for taking up so much of your time,
- Once again, we apologise for any inconvenience,
- Once again, thanks for your attention and your valuable time,
- We await your reply with interest,
- We look forward to hearing from you,
- We look forward to seeing you,
When you know the name of the recipient:
- Yours sincerely,
Or, if you do not know the name:
- Yours faithfully,
- Your Signature
- Your Name ( + title)
- (optional) Your Job Position
Here is this information in Dutch.
Looking for informal letters? Read about that in my article How to write informal letters in English with Examples.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Bello Abubakar Zayyad on October 20, 2018:
Thanks a lot
Nakanyala Anna on August 22, 2018:
Its very helpful thanks a lots.
mohammed ALI gbete lutawo on May 08, 2018:
what is a noun.a noun is a name of person animal place or thing
Yusak Langi on January 26, 2018:
preetika on January 06, 2018:
good i like it
Ayushi on December 07, 2017:
John Smith on August 31, 2017:
Shouldn´t it be: Yours sincerely instead of your sincerely?
Christopher aiya on January 30, 2017: