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In my language, when I write an email to my professor, boss, etc, there is a greeting part in the first part of email right after "Dear prof. ..."(in my language of course), e.g. "How are you", "I hope everything is alright" and so on. But I don't have any idea how can I write a proper email with such a greeting in English? Or do I have to ignore it because the email is kinda formal?

Thanks a lot.

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Here is a link to get you started. Also, many links in the comments there. english.stackexchange.com/questions/95604/official-e-mail –  KitFox Mar 13 '13 at 19:38
    
Thanks a lot. But I already read that. There is nothing about my question there! –  Naji Mar 13 '13 at 19:46
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@KitFox I think the question assumes that there is a specific contact in mind; not an email to an unknown audience. –  Gaʀʀʏ Mar 13 '13 at 20:58
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I almost always start formal e-mails with

Dear Professor _,

I hope this note finds you well.

Some guidelines will suggest ending your salutation with a colon rather than a comma, but in many circumstances a comma is acceptable. If the person's title is "professor," you should spell it out (not "prof.") and begin it with a capital letter when it precedes the person's name (as it would in your example).

"I hope this note (or letter) finds you well" politely establishes a friendly connection between you and the recipient of your letter and in most circumstances is a great way to start it. Especially if you're asking for something, it's good to indicate your concern for the person you're writing to. For the same reason, it's a good idea to end the letter with a phrase or sentence that will similarly show interest in their work or their well-being. "Best regards," is fine, but if you can tailor it in a way that's a bit more thoughtful, it's better. "I hope your book/project continues to go smoothly." (This can be followed by a "Best regards.") If this is a person you don't know, you may have to settle for a generic "Best regards" alone.

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It depends on the context. Generally, it is uncommon for a professional email to contain an informal greeting, especially when the greeting is multiple sentences long, as you suggested. If you do decide to include it, you should keep it short and to-the-point.

Dr. Lastname, // Use whichever greeting you commonly use with this person.

It has been awhile since we last spoke. I was wondering if {intent of email}. I hope all is going well with {process}.

Thanks,

However, if there is a relationship established that isn't strictly professional, say, you work with them for 1 year and leave the company or class, then is more common to include an informal greeting at the beginning.

Hello Dr. LastName,

It has been awhile since we last spoke. How are things going with {class|business process}? I was wondering if {intent of email}. Thank you!

Regards,

If it is someone you see frequently, it is best to keep that informal conversation to small talk between business meetings or worktime.

Dr. Lastname,

Can you email me a copy of the memo from yesterday's meeting?

Thanks,

Lastly, remember to check your spelling and grammar.

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