Updated: Mar 22, 2022
There are plenty of better ways to start your e-mail and show people you're writing to you're a nice person.
What's wrong with I hope this email finds you well?
The thing with I hope this email finds you well is that it's one of the most overused e-mail openers in the English speaking world. Since it's been used so frequently, it became a kind of cliche and it may sound to someone like even though you express concern over their well being, you don't really care about it at all. Also, it doesn't invite your recipient to reply to it, it's just there to fill a gap and avoid the awkwardness of not saying anything.
I can imagine you could still find it in English textbooks and many teachers still teach it and there is nothing wrong with it, but English constantly evolves and what that entails is replacing old words and expressions with new better ones.
This is to say there are tons of way much better openers to show your interest and set a slightly friendlier tone for your message. In this article, I'll show you 7 such expressions: some alternative endings for the I hope this e-mail... phrase and a couple of brand new ideas for you to consider. As for the style, you can easily use all these expressions (except number 7) in casual to a bit more formal business e-mails and you shouldn't be causing too much offence.
Yeah, you got that right - writing nothing at all is a great option. I hope this email finds you well can sound like you want to say something but you don't know how to do it, so why not skip it altogether? Don't worry, you won't sound rude - it's absolutely fine. My Italian students are terrified when I ask them not to use it just because they're insanely friendly people and it's expected of them in their culture to start their e-mail with a friendly line. Unfortunately, I hope this email finds you well is not that friendly line you're looking for, so if nothing else comes to your mind, just go ahead and get to the point, like this:
I'm reaching out to you to ask for...
I'm writing to confirm...
I wanted to let you know that...
2. I hope you're doing well / I hope you're doing alright / I hope you're doing well despite the...
It could be found equally boring by many native speakers but it's way much better than
I hope this email finds you well. It's a bit more friendly and when you add the 'despite the weather' bit it sounds like you're almost bonding with a person over something you're both experiencing right now like miserable weather, for example. It's definitely much more personal yet still formal enough.
3. I hope you had a great weekend
It kind of says: 'I don't know much about you, but it's Monday, so I'm guessing you're full of energy and I can bother you with whatever it is I need from you, and you'll be fine. Much more friendly and still good in formal e-mails.
4. I hope you had a great time on holiday / I hope you enjoyed your trip to Paris
These two mean: 'I know you a bit and I remember you mentioned going on holiday or business trip to Paris and I'm trying to be nice in here, so will you help me?'. It's much more personal and friendly than I hope this email finds you well.
5. I hope you're having a productive week
It's all about working and getting things done. This one is great in business emails when you're writing to someone you don't know well and nothing else comes to your mind apart from I hope this email finds you well.
6. It was nice meeting you last week
It's a really good way of starting a business e-mail when you've already met the person, broken the ice and now you need to ask them for a favour or follow up on something you discussed before. It sets a completely different tone to what you're writing and takes it to another level especially when you need that person to really help you. It could also be:
We met at the conference last month...
I had the pleasure of meeting you at the ...
We were introduced to each other at the...
7. Happy Monday! How are you doing? / I hope you're surviving the day
A bit of everyday small talk. You can use these simple everyday single-liners with your workmates or collaborators you know really well. They're definitely not good openers when you're writing to someone for the first time or want to be very formal.
Remember it all boils down to whom you're writing to and what that person is like, so just make sure you keep that in mind before you start writing.
I'd be more than happy to talk to you about more business e-mail phrases and help you practise using them correctly. You can book a private Business English lesson with me (subject to availability) and we can have loads of fun with it.