Professional email writing

The one phrase you should (almost) never use to start an email

2 minute read

Most of us write tens or even hundreds of them a week, but the question of how to start an email (or letter) can still leave us floundering.

In fact, one of our readers and former delegates asked us to settle an office argument on this very matter. We’re very fond of workplace debates – especially about language and writing. (And the more heated, the better.) So we were only too happy to weigh in.

Here’s how the exchange went.

Dear Emphasis

I really enjoyed the report-writing course I did. But I now have a query about email and letter writing.

We are debating in the office whether you should start an email or letter with ‘I am writing’. Some say yes, some say no.

What would you say?



And here’s our reply:

Hi Jane

Thanks for getting in touch. We’re really pleased to hear you enjoyed the report-writing course.

The same ‘KISS’ principles that you learnt on the course apply as much to letters as to reports.

For that reason, I wouldn’t usually recommend that you start an email or letter with ‘I am writing’, any more than I would recommend starting a phone call with ‘I am calling’. Both are self-evident and therefore a waste of ink/breath. They are also arguably a little lazy.

However, starting drafting with ‘I am writing’ can be a great way to get the words flowing – you just have to make sure you go back and edit it out again.

For example:

Dear Clare

I am writing to thank you so much for inviting me to last week’s seminar …



Dear Clare

Thank you so much for inviting me to last week’s seminar …


Here’s another example:

Dear Muffle Telecom

I am writing to complain about the shockingly poor level of service your company has (or rather hasn’t) delivered recently …



Dear Muffle Telecom

Your company delivered (or rather didn’t deliver) a shockingly poor level of service recently …


Do note that you’ll want to look at your messages case by case as you do this. For example, you could argue that I have subtly changed the meaning in the second example. However, the complaint is implicit: by pointing out the poor service, I am, by definition, complaining.

Our advice would definitely be to avoid using this phrase if you can – except as a technique to get started.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards

Rob Ashton

What do you think? Try this technique this week when you’re writing emails and see if it helps you.

Image credit: Maslowski Marcin / Shutterstock


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The Write Stuff

A relentless chaser of evidence and a confirmed sceptic, Jacob is a digital marketer who puts good data at the centre of all his work.

He's also a certified word nerd, driven to understand how language works and how to use it to get real results.

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