Writing an email is one of the first tasks to be carried out by every language learner. Italian language certifications, like CILS or PLIDA test the ability of the student to write an email or a short message. Beyond this situation, it’s easy to be in a position where you need to know how to write an email. Nowadays emails are commonly used to ask for information, apply for a job, make a reservation, etc.
Sounds difficult ? Not so much if you follow a few simple rules. The first thing you have to know is that an email is a text with a particular structure. If you organize your text into functional paragraphs and you use appropriate opening and closing formulas, you are already half of the way there. Here are some useful expressions for each paragraph that you can use to write a wide range of emails.
The Opening (Formula di Apertura)
This part of the email can change a lot depending on who your reader is. If you are writing to a friend or to someone you know, you can use Caro/Cara (Dear) or simply Ciao (Hi). If you don’t know your reader, for example when you are writing to a hotel or a school, you can use some adjectives before the name: Gentile direttore/ Gentile insegnante (Gentle director/ Gentle teacher) or Egregio direttore/ Egregio professore and Egregia professoressa. The last are very formal and when you use them you have to pay attention to the gender agreement, using correct feminineand masculine nouns. With the name of a business you must use Spettabile (Respectable). For example: Spettabile Scuola di Italiano.
Buongiorno and buonasera are increasingly used. These are greetings and should be used only when speaking, but the trend is changing. Very often they are preferred to the other salutations when you can’t say “Ciao” because is too informal, but don’t want to exaggerate. They are a middle ground and an easy solution when we don’t know the name or the gender of the reader.
At this point you can:
1) Introduce yourself: Sono Michael; Mi chiamo Allison Bay; Mi chiamo Robert Nash e sono un ingegnere elettronico.
2) Thank the other person for their previous correspondence : Grazie per la tua email (Thanks for your email); Sono stata molto felice di ricevere la tua email (I’m very happy to receive your email); Non vedevo l’ora di leggere tue notizie (I couldn’t wait to hear from you); etc.
3) Apologize: Scusa se non ho risposto prima ma sono stato molto impegnato/a (I’m sorry I didn’t answer before but I was very busy); È passato tanto tempo dall’ultima volta che ti ho scritto, ho avuto molto da fare ultimamente (It has been ages since I last wrote, I’ve been rushed off my feet recently); etc.
Main Body of the Text (Corpo dell’email)
This is the main part of your email. Here you can explain the reason you are writing: Scrivo perché vorrei qualche informazione sui vostri corsi di italiano (I’m writing to you because I want to know more about your Italian classes); Vorrei prenotare una camera (I would like to book a room); Scrivo per presentare la mia candidatura per il posto di…(I’m writing to apply for the position of); et
The Ending (Formula di Congedo)
Atthe end, you can use Fammi sapere (Let me know); Un abbraccio (A hug); A presto (Write soon). When you are writing a formal email you can choose among Distinti saluti or Cordiali saluti (Yours sincerely / Yours faithfully).