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I hope this email finds you well

Discussion in 'English Only' started by martin_baires07, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. martin_baires07 Senior Member

    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Argentinean Spanish
    Hi everybody!

    I'm a native speaker of Spanish, but I use English for my work most of the time. I'm a lawyer.

    I have seen many partners in the law firm where I work starting emails with the expression "I HOPE THIS EMAIL FINDS YOU WELL" (they also use it in Spanish, literally translated from English, which sounds really odd).

    I would like to know if:

    a) Such expression is commonly or regularly used in English.

    b) English speakers tend to like or dislike such expression (some have told me they find it particularly irritating).

    c) There are other equivalent expressions (bearing in mind that they are used in the context of business emails, as a way of sounding friendly).

    Thank you very much!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  2. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    To me, the expression sounds a little dated, but that's OK with me. i can imagine it sounding a bit odd, and perhaps also irritating to some others, though.

    As an alternative, how about simply 'I hope you are well'. Or even simpler, omit it altogether. This would probably be the preference of the many people who keep the content of emails to the barest minimum and avoid introductions and sign-offs altogether.
     
  3. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Hopefully they don't capitalize it every time. :rolleyes:

    I don't have a problem with the sentence and the sentiment as long as I think it's sincere. It can go at the beginning or the end, but it should be varied in terms of expression, i.e. not those same words every time. If I think it's just rubber-stamped at the beginning of each email, or if I see it in every email you send me, I will realize there is no personal sentiment behind it and I will find it annoying.

    You are lawyers, you use language in all sorts of different ways, and you presumably have some sort of personal connection with your clients -- it is not a good reflection on you if you use the same opening for every email.

    You might like to search for email etiquette on Google to pick up a few more pointers.
     
  4. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Some people treat email as if it were texting - bare minimum words to communicate. Other feel it is a substitute for the old-fashioned handwritten letter and use all the conventions thereof, wordy or otherwise.
    However, the key issue here is the context - the degree to which the recipient is known to the sender. It's informal, so inappropriate to email to a (relative) stranger or even a business acquaintance. There may be some recipients for whom this will be a welcome interaction and well-wishing gesture and who accept the tone it sets. Others, not so much! Even for people who use this, I suspect they only use it with a particular group of recipients.
     
  5. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    I find that it sounds artificial. When I get an e-mail that starts this way it is never from a native English speaker. I understand that a formula such as this is common in many cultures, so I'm not offended, but I would never use it myself and would not expect to see it from a native speaker.
     
  6. martin_baires07 Senior Member

    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Argentinean Spanish
    Thank you very much for your contribution!! Now, could you suggest some examples of phrases that could be used instead?? Phrases commonly used in English. Thank you again!
     
  7. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    I'm sorry but we don't make lists of words or expressions.
     
  8. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I agree with the others that such comments referring to the recipient's health are inadvisable in business correspondence—unless you know for a fact that your correspondent has been ill or injured. In that case, it's a nice gesture, in my opinion, to remark on something your correspondent may have mentioned: "I hope you've recovered from that nasty bout of the flu" or "I was sorry to hear about your skiing accident; I trust the arm is mending well." I would place such a comment at the end of the message rather than the beginning.
     
  9. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    I also agree that it is a rather strange opening for a formal business letter.
    The phrase reminds me of the thank-you letters which one was obliged to write (by hand!) as a child after birthdays or Christmas. For some reason I was taught to start every letter with 'Dear XXX, I hope you are well.'
    I think that today it sounds pretty dated.
     
  10. Sungura New Member

    Russian - Russia
    As I'm also not a native speaker and have to communicate to non native speakers in English in my job, I often receive such sentences as "I hope that you and your family are well". But how could I start a business letter to somebody, who didn't communicate with me for a long time, if this sentence is not appropriate? In some cultures it is not polite just to start with your request without a "small talk"...
     
  11. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    You're right. This is a cultural question, not a language question. That's why this phrase sounds strange to native English speakers: it is not part of business culture in most English-speaking countries, even though its vocabulary and grammar are correct.

    I suggest doing what is appropriate for the culture of the person to whom you are writing. If that person is from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia or New Zealand, don't write this. If that person is from another culture, try to find out what is considered courteous there. Perhaps e-mails that you have received from that person, or from others in that culture, can provide guidance.
     
  12. Sungura New Member

    Russian - Russia
    Thank you for your comment Egmont, it helped me a lot!
     
  13. nimfae Senior Member

    Lithuanian
    Hi,
    I've just read about 'I hope my e-mail/letter finds you well' in another thread in this forum;
    it was said it's a bit too formal for a friend, and my question is if this phrase may be used in a very formal (eg. government level) communication.
     
  14. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    nimfae, if you read this thread from the beginning, you will see that your question has already been answered.
     
  15. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    This phrase is not used by native speakers in e-mail correspondence unless they have a specific reason to care about the reader's health. That has nothing to do with formality.
     
  16. nimfae Senior Member

    Lithuanian
    I'm afraid I missed something yesterday and asked again accordingly. Thank you.
     
  17. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Yes, I think it is unusual to discuss irrelevant health matters in a business letter. If someone sends me a work enquiry relating to a bereavement or serious illness in the family, I might begin the reply "I was sorry to hear about....", but that's about it.

    "I hope this letter finds you well" makes me think of the kind of style recommended decades ago for young people travelling away from their parents for the first time and writing home. It is loving but suitably detached and optimistic. Perhaps because today is Remembrance Sunday, I imagine that the next letter the family received might well inform them that their boy has been killed in the war.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2013
  18. Parlons Suédois New Member

    Swedish
    Whenever I get an e-mail that begins with this phrase, it always goes on to explain that the writer is the former valet of the now-deceased dictator of some little-known african country, that said valet happens to know the number of the swiss bank account in which his former master secured the money he had embezzled, and the he (the valet, that is) has chosen me, of all people, to share this money with on a 50-50 basis, if I only forward him a small sum of money required to pay some administrative fees.
     
  19. nimfae Senior Member

    Lithuanian
    Thank you for the vivid discriptions which very well illustrate the situation and the associations a native speaker may have in this regard :)
     
  20. Khaldun New Member

    UAE
    Arabic
    Dear Parla,

    Thank you for your post, I like it.
     

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