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Common mistakes when writing

formal email
When you are introducing yourself ,say what kind of student you are ,dont just
mention that you are graduate student

Forgetting to use a greeting or closing

Always open with a greeting when beginning a conversation. Otherwise, your email will
come off as terse and demanding, says Judith Kallos, an email etiquette expert. The same
goes for including a closing line. Every single word you speak or type is about forming an
impression and building your brand, Kallos says. Leaving out these simple pleasantries
wont give off a friendly vibe to potential clients or partners.

Being too formal

While formality remains crucial to professionalism, if youre emailing a client you call by
their first name in person, dont revert to an honorific, such as Mr. or Mrs., in the email,
Gottsman advises. Your email opening should always reflect your relationship with that

Becoming too informal too quickly

While an email thread can swiftly become short and friendly, starting off too informally
for example, saying Hey Megan instead of Hello Ms. Smith to a new contact
may seem disrespectful. It can smack of a lack of professionalism that may cause people to
wonder what else you dont realize is important or take seriously, Kallos says. Always start a
conversation politely and formally, and follow the other persons lead. Gottsman recommends
waiting until they sign off using their first name to use it yourself.

Saying to whom it may concern

This greeting is the email kiss of death, Gottsman warns. It shows you havent done your
homework, she says. Its so easy to find out who you need to talk to if you put in a little
effort. Taking the time to include a name will make your email feel more personal and less
generic. If you cant find a specific name, try something like To the consumer affairs
department or Dear hiring manager.

Forgetting to change the subject line

Most people forget about the subject line, one of the most important parts of any work email.
Every time you begin discussing a new topic, change the subject line of your email thread to
make your conversations easy to locate in the future. Its confusing if your exchange about
advertising is in an email labeled as sales, Gottsman says.

Hitting reply all

Unless what youre saying applies to absolutely everyone, respond only to the sender,
Gottsman says. Its annoying to receive one-sentence responses from 40 different people,
especially if the topic isnt relevant to what youre working on.

Not paying attention to detail

Small details speak volumes in email, as any stray keystroke can completely change the tone
or tell the recipient that you dont care enough to put in more of an effort. Always be sure to
spell names correctly and double check for typos. Additionally, never put names in all
lowercase or all caps either, says Kallos. It makes it look as though you didnt care enough to
properly format their name.

Including too many personal details

No one wants to read through more than they need to, so keep emails concise and leave out
personal details. Business email etiquette developed because people want to hear about just
business, not your cousin or grandmother, Kallos says. Save your personal updates for
another time.

Not monitoring your tone

Since people cant hear our tone of voice, we have to remember that all they have is the
written word, Gottsman says. The writer needs to make sure that they are writing for the
reader to understand. This makes phrasing and formatting extremely important to clearly
getting your point across. Always take the time to find the exact word that conveys what you
mean, and only bold something if youre ready to stand by it, Kallos says. If you type it, you
better mean it, she adds. People will take things the wrong way, so avoid even giving them
the chance to.

Asking questions that have already been answered

Asking unnecessary questions not only wastes the other persons time, it shows that you
didnt pay attention to what they said the first time around. To avoid this, Kallos suggests
answering emails point by point. People love it because they know youve taken the time to
address each and every one of their concerns, she says.

Saying something over email that should be done face-to-face

Some things, such as offering criticism, cant be said over email without creating a
misunderstanding. Learn to recognize these situations, and pick up the phone or walk over
instead of sending an email. On email you dont have the eye contact or the body language,
so theres times youve got to add that personal touch, Kallos says.

Using emojis or abbreviations

Emojis and abbreviations are generally unprofessional in business emails, Gottsman says.
Leave out the smiley faces and LOLs, and be sure to spell out words like appointment

instead of writing appt if youre writing to your boss or a client, which shows that youre
taking adequate time to respond to their email instead of using quick shortcuts.

1. Loose vs. Lose

This one drives a lot of people crazy, including me. In fact, its so prevalent among bloggers
that I once feared I was missing something, and somehow loose was a proper substitute for
lose in some other English-speaking countries. Heres a hint: its not.
If your pants are too loose, you might lose your pants.
2. Me, Myself, and I

One of the most common causes of grammatical pain is the choice between me and I.
Too often people use I when they should use me, because since I sounds stilted and
proper, it must be right, right? Nope.
The easy way to get this one right is to simply remove the other person from the sentence and
then do what sounds correct. You would never say Give I a call, so you also wouldnt say
Give Chris and I a call. Dont be afraid of me.
And whatever you do, dont punt and say myself because youre not sure whether me or
I is the correct choice. Myself is only proper in two contexts, both of which are
demonstrated below.
Many consider Chris a punk, but I myself tolerate him. Which brings me to ask myself, why?
3. Different than vs. Different from

This one slips under the radar a lot, and Ill bet Ive screwed it up countless times. It boils
down to the fact that things are logically different from one another, and using the word
than after different is a grammatical blunder.
This vase is different from the one I have, but I think mine is better than this one.
4. Improper Use of the Apostrophe

Basically, you use an apostrophe in two cases:

For contractions (dont for do not)

To show possession (Franks blog means the blog belongs to Frank)

If still in doubt, leave the apostrophe out. It causes more reader confusion to insert an
apostrophe where it doesnt belong than it does to omit one. Plus, you can always plead the

typo defense if you leave an apostrophe out, but you look unavoidably dumb when you stick
one where it doesnt belong.
5. Parallelism

Back when I talked about bullet points, one of the tips involved keeping each bullet item in
parallel by beginning with the same part of speech. For example, each item might similarly
begin with a verb like so:





When writing a list of items in paragraph form, this is even more crucial, and failing to stay
in parallel can result in confusion for readers and scorn from English majors. Check out this
non-parallel list in a sentence:
Over the weekend, Kevin bought a new MacBook Pro online, two software programs, and
arranged for free shipping.
Do you see the problem? If not, break the list into bullet points and it becomes clear:
Over the weekend, Kevin:

Bought a new MacBook Pro online

Two software programs

Arranged for free shipping

Stick the word ordered in front of two software programs and youre in parallel. Your
readers will subconsciously thank you, and the Grammar Nazis wont slam you.
6. i.e. vs. e.g.

Ah, Latin youve just gotta love it. As antiquated as they might seem, these two little Latin
abbreviations are pretty handy in modern writing, but only if you use them correctly.
The Latin phrase id est means that is, so i.e. is a way of saying in other words. Its
designed to make something clearer by providing a definition or saying it in a more common
Copyblogger has jumped the shark, i.e., gone downhill in quality, because Brian has broken
most of his New Years resolutions.

The Latin phrase exempli gratia means for example, so e.g. is used before giving specific
examples that support your assertion.
Copyblogger has jumped the shark because Brian has broken most of his New Years
resolutions, e.g., promising not to say Web 2.0, linkbait, or jumped the shark on the
blog in 2007.
7. Could of, Would of, Should of

Please dont do this:

I should of gone to the baseball game, and I could of, if Billy would of done his job.
This is correct:
I should have gone to the baseball game, and could have, if Billy had done his job.
Why do people make this mistake?
They couldve, shouldve, wouldve been correct, except that the ending of those contractions
is slurred when spoken. This creates something similar to a homophone, i.e., a word that is
pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, e.g., of, which results in the
common grammatical mistake of substituting of for have.
Aint this been fun?