Over the years I’ve noticed that there are some mistakes which crop up time and time again in emails. Although these errors don’t usually prevent the recipient from understanding what is meant, they do prevent the sender from making a really good impression. So why not eliminate them?


Can you spot the mistakes?

I’ve composed an email which includes my top seven typical errors  in just a few lines. See if you can find them.

Dear Peter,

thank you for agreeing to train our german sales team on the 4th of March. I suggest to hold the workshop in the main conference room. I know, that you used the small one last time, but it’ll be a much bigger group (12 – 16 participants) this time.

I’m looking forward to see you again!

Best regards



How many did you find?

I’ve dealt with many of these points in previous newsletters and blog posts. So in the following I’ve kept it very brief and linked to more detailed information.

Mistake no. 1: Beginning with a lower case letter
In English the main body of an email or a letter always begins with a capital letter. So it should be: Thank you for …

Mistake no. 2: German written with a lower case letter
On a similar note: countries, nationalities and languages always begin with a capital letter.

Mistake no. 3: Writing out the date
Except in a few (very formal) contexts, it is not usual today to write out the date. Instead the following formats are used: on 4 March (in British English) or on March 4 (in American English).

Mistake no. 4: Using the infinitive with recommend
Some verbs are followed by the gerund (-ing form) not the infinitive. So it should be: I suggest holding 

Mistake no. 5: Using a comma before that
I guess this comes from the German. In English there is no comma before that in this case. And off the top of my head I can’t think of any case where you would use a comma before that.

Mistake no. 6: I’m looking forward to + infinitive
The phrase I’m looking forward to / I look forward to is also followed by the gerund: I’m looking forward to seeing you.

Mistake no. 7: Using a comma after the salutation, but not after the greeting
You can use a comma after Dear Peter or you can leave it out. That’s up to you. But you have to be consistent. If you use a comma after the salutation you need to use one after the complimentary close, too: Best regards,


And in your emails?

Have a look at a couple of English emails you’ve written recently. Do they contain any of these mistakes? If so, don’t worry. (As I wrote at the beginning, the recipient will still have understood what you wanted to say.) Instead take action to ensure you don’t make them again. Over the next few weeks, check these seven points in every email you send out. At this stage, you’ll need to invest a little more time, but it’ll pay off in the long run. You’ll soon be able to write better English emails faster.


Posted on Jan 9, 2017 in getting ahead
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Porträt Nicola Bartlett
Nicola Bartlett
I’ve been an English trainer for over 25 years, helping adults to get their message across in English – clearly and appropriately. Successful communication in English requires more than just a good knowledge of the language. An understanding of different mentalities and a feeling for the best approach are vital, too. » more