How to write an e-mail in american – english salutation, farewell and how to always sound polite

You are supposed to write a business e-mail in American, for example to a US colleague – and are now asking yourself: How do I do this "correctly"? Which rules apply? What can I do not to sound rude? And which abbreviations are often used in e-mails?


A simple overview of the most important words and phrases that you should know if you deal with Americans frequently!

In this guide, we’ll first look at the following Salutation and also go into the cultural differences between the USA and Germany at the same time. Because what is considered normal by Americans can sometimes seem impolite to us, or the other way around.

Then it continues with Text after the salutation. This one also holds a few peculiarities, but they should be considered if you don’t want to stand out negatively. And also here you should not feel attacked if the Americans prefer a different writing style than we do in Germany. And, of course, there are a few rules to follow so that you don’t offend your American colleagues!
Should I be more brief? Start the email with small talk? How can I best express myself when I want to ask my American contact for something?? And what is the best way to deliver criticism without the colleague on the other end getting offended and stopping working with you??
A few grammatical peculiarities are also pointed out in this article, so that they always express themselves correctly and no mistakes creep in. You will always find small examples of this.

Last but not least, there are helpful tips about the Goodbye phrases, you can use. What is too casual, what sounds too awkward? Is there a farewell that always fits?

Our little guide should help you to always strike the right tone – and to structure your e-mail the way Americans are used to it.

1. The salutation

When composing an email to American colleagues, the salutation doesn’t necessarily have to start with "Dear". A simple "Hello" followed by the first name of the person is sufficient.


This may sound too confidential for you – but in the USA, such a form of address is considered perfectly normal. Therefore, in reverse, you should not assume "Hey, he’s my buddy now"!" when someone addresses you in this way.

Sometimes the greeting is omitted and only the name is used in the salutation, which can seem rude to Germans.


Or it even starts with the very first sentence, without any salutation at all. This is also common and is not perceived as impolite.


Please send the documents tomorrow.

2. How to continue after the salutation

In English, a comma is placed after the salutation and you start the next line with a capital letter.


3. The text part:

Despite jovial forms of address, many Americans are very brief and communicate in telegram style. To us Germans, this sometimes seems quite rude, but it is not meant that way. Your American colleague just wants to save time.


Send documents asap.

(In case you don’t know exactly what "asap" and other typical American abbreviations mean: Here’s a list of the most common English abbreviations, including explanations).

When making first contact, however, an introductory sentence is quite common, preferably with a reference to where you met or from whom you got the person’s name.


My colleague Marcus referred me to you….

We met in Cologne at the trade fair and I would like to know more about your services….

The more you communicate via email, the shorter the responses become. You should not be surprised about this, for Americans this means efficiency!


These phrases, abbreviations and vocabulary you should know when working with Americans – a handy downloadable overview!

4. How do I sound polite when writing an e-mail in English??

Just now I advised you that you can definitely use the telegram style sometimes. Now I would like to add one more "but". Because: Be careful not to use colloquial contractions such as "we’ll" for "we will" or "we’re" for "we are"! This is considered bad style in business emails. It is best to write out both words here.


We will meet tomorrow at 8.00 a.m.

And then a few rules that you should follow if you want to be considered polite by your US colleagues:

If you want to make a suggestion:

Don’t jump right in, but use an introductory phrase, such as:

  • I would suggest that..
  • My proposal is that..

Note that in English, there is no comma before the relative clause (i.e., before "that")! English also uses modal verbs (" Can you please…") or a polite form like the Konjunktiv II in German ("I would suggest…") to introduce the suggestion.

If you ask for something

If you are making a request, a simple "please" is enough to make the sentence polite.


Please send me the documents.

Or you start the sentence with the phrase "could you…":


Could you please send me the documents?

If something is urgent, avoid the phrase: "Thank you in advance!" ("Thank you in advance") This is considered rude and Americans often feel rushed by it!

If you have been annoyed by something:

Americans are not used to direct criticism, so make sure to formulate your criticisms as positively as possible. You could introduce the criticism like this:


  • I was very surprised to hear..
  • Unfortunately..

Then describe the facts and conclude the criticism by saying that you are sure that the problem will be fixed soon:


  • I am sure that you will…
  • I am positive that..

5. And finally: the goodbye in English

Saying goodbye in e-mails is usually done with the following phrase:

Sufficiency is also:

It’s best to include a German and an English goodbye phrase in your signature, because then you won’t have to worry about it at all:

Yours sincerely / Kind regards

Many Americans also don’t bother to write the parting phrase themselves. If this is missing, the same applies as with the salutation: If you leave out the farewell, it has nothing to do with impoliteness. So don’t feel like you’ve been put on the spot!

Email in American

Guest article by Sabine Arnold

Sabine Arnold is a qualified interpreter for English and Spanish. She conducts English training for our customers – so that employees are well prepared to communicate with their new US colleagues after an American takeover. Since Sabine Arnold has lived in the USA herself, she is very familiar with cultural peculiarities.


Get here our list full of important American
Phrases and vocabulary that will help you in your everyday work

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