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COLLOQUIAL ABBREVIATIONS IN EMAILS

In today’s article I will write a few recommendations about colloquial abbreviations in emails, a well as the appropriate use of greetings and saying farewell. In the first place, I explain how to write a formal email to a person or a company that is unknown to us. Then I enumerate the cases in which one can use less formal writing, paying attention to abbreviations that can only appear in the latter type of correspondence.

My first advice is that if you are writing an email to a person or a company for the first time, it will be better for you to use formal expressions, which you will be able to substitute for more familiar ones when you have already exchanged some mails and you get to know your partner better. Hence, I highly recommend always starting the email saying ‘Dear Mr’ or ‘Dear Mgrs.’; another option is to begin your email saying ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’. Both alternatives are correct, but if you don’t know the treatment that you should use with the person you are addressing, you can write his/her name after the word ‘Dear’ (for instance, ‘Dear Thomas Smith’), though people tend to consider this option more informal. After the person’s status, it is convenient to write ‘if I may’ between parenthesis, as an act of deference to whom you are writing to.

You should finish your email writing at the bottom ‘Regards’ or ‘Kind regards’. You can say ‘Best regards’, too, but in this case you are implying that you empathise in some way with the people at the other side of your screen. Apart from the alternatives that I have just mentioned, there are two more expressions that are appropriate in this context: first, if you started the email saying ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’, you can finish it saying ‘Yours faithfully’; second, if you began with ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms’, you can use ‘Yours sincerely’. It is important to note that, after all the expressions that I have pointed out in this paragraph, you must write your full name in the following line to sing the email.

Either if you know the person to whom you are addressing your email, or if you have already exchanged some word with him/her/them (though you needn’t be in close terms with each other), there are some alternatives to make your communication less formal. On the one hand, you can start saying ‘Hello’ and the name of the person, but you will only say ‘Hi’ if you are really close to each other. There is also an expression that is halfway between both alternatives: ‘Greetings’, which is regarded as more neutral and is rarely used. When it is time to say farewell, you can choose between different options: ‘All the very best’ implies affection towards the person you are addressing, whereas ‘Best’ is more neutral, and ‘Cheers’ is regarded as the less formal of all, which is the reason for its use mainly in emails exchanged between friends. In the following line you can write your first name, or only your initials in really colloquial correspondence.
 
It is precisely in the latter kind of emails that one can use colloquial abbreviations whose meaning has been previously agreed by common use, such as ‘asap’ (‘as soon as possible’), brb (‘be right back’), btw (‘by the way’), fyi (‘for your information’), idk (‘I don’t know’), lol (‘lots of laughs’), np (‘no problem’), omg (‘oh my God’), etc.

To sum up, the first decision one needs to make when writing an email is what his/her relation is to the person to which it is addressed. Once we have clarified this question, we only need to use the appropriate tone and to remember the main expressions and their correspondence, in order to use them right and to cause a good impression in the addressee, whoever he/she might be. 

Autor: Antonio Jesús Pinto
Profesor en 121 Conversation. Es Doctor en Historia Contemporánea. Ha vivido en Londres, Nueva York y Pittsburg. Tiene una amplia experiencia como profesor de inglés. Por su  experiencia y su formación profesional, dice estar "convencido que mis clases ayudarán al alumno a coger soltura y a tener más confianza en si mismo a la hora de hablar el inglés".