Starting and Finishing Letters, Memos & Emails
In letters, memos and emails, clear beginnings and endings are very important. These are the first and last things that are read, and are therefore likely to leave the greatest impression on the reader.
Your first sentence should be clear, concise and written in modern English. This is easily done if you can avoid three common errors.
■ Error 1: Writing an Incomplete Sentence
All these sentences are incomplete:
|×||Further to your letter of 3 June concerning the trustees of the P F Smith 1994 Settlement.|
|×||With reference to our previous communication notifying you of the transfer of the administration of the above policy to National Mutual with effect from 9 May.|
|×||In response to your letter to John Hui dated 19 April.|
|×||Regarding your claim for attendance allowance.|
|×||Referring to your letter of 10 January about delayed frequency allocations.|
Each statement needs to be continued and completed, inserting a comma instead of a full stop.
|✓||Further to your letter of 3 June concerning the trustees of the P F Smith 1994 Settlement, I am pleased to enclose the form you requested.|
|✓||Regarding your claim for attendance allowance, I need to ask you for some more information.|
Alternatively, you could insert a main verb at the start to complete the sentences:
|✓||Thank you for your letter of 3 June concerning the trustees of the P F Smith 1994 Settlement.|
|✓||I refer to your claim for attendance allowance.|
Other verbs that will do a similar job include ‘I acknowledge’, ‘I confirm’, and ‘I write to explain’. These alternatives are preferable for another reason; they use personal words like ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘we’.
其他类似的动词包括“我承认”、“我确认”、“我写信解释”。 出于另一个原因，这些替代方案更可取； 他们使用诸如“我”、“你”和“我们”之类的个人词。
Don’t be afraid to write a one-sentence paragraph at the start of a letter, memo or email.
|✓||Thank you for your letter of 13 April 2003.|
If you are taking the initiative, rather than responding to an enquiry, these phrases may be helpful to get your first sentence off to a good start:
|✓||You are warmly invited to…|
|You may be interested in…|
|This is an opportunity to…|
|Now is a good time to consider…|
Or you could ask a question – preferably one to which the reader will answer yes:
或者你可以问一个问题 – 最好是读者会回答『是的』问题：
|✓||Does your office have old and outdated law books gathering dust in corners? Would you like to create some extra space for yourself, and see those books go to a good cause at the same time? If so…|