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Jane Mairs, Director of English language Learning Publishing
"How are you?" in an email
Thursday October 31st 2013
Question
What are some common ways to ask someone how they are doing, in an email message? — P. Shyamkishor, India
Answer

Informal email

It is common to begin an informal email to a friend or relative by asking how the person is doing, using a question like one of these:

  • How are things?
  • How are things going?
  • Hi, how are you?
  • How are you doing?

Here is an example of the beginning of an email written to a friend:

Hi Meghan, 

How are you? 

Have you heard from Julia recently? I heard that she....

 

Formal email

In a formal email, to someone who is not a friend or relative, it is best not to ask one of these questions, because it could be considered too casual and friendly. It is better to express interest in the person’s well-being by starting with one of the following statements:

  • I hope all is well. 
  • I hope all is well with you. 
  • I hope this message finds you well. 
  • I hope things are going well for you. 

Here is an example of the beginning of a formal email written to a business associate:

Dear Anthony, 

I hope all is well. 

I wanted to let you know that I’m going to be in Miami next week, and I'm hoping that we can find a time to meet....

However, in an email such as the one above, written for business purposes, it is not at all necessary to begin with a statement about the person's well-being. It is fine to go directly to the point of your message, like this:

Dear Anthony. 

I wanted to let you know that I'm going to be in Miami next week, and I'm hoping that we can find a time to meet....

 

 

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