Business culture Level 3 Study Materials

It’s Steve vs. I am Steve: How to introduce yourself in an email.

As this website keeps growing with articles and materials, we have started getting requests about some different topics. This type of stuff is great and I thank you all for helping out and giving suggestions for topics you want to read and understand. This website is here for you and I hope to help you all with the materials that will put you ahead of other people.

“To put you ahead of” someone or something means to be more successful than others, to be literally in front of someone when it comes to your ability or skills.

One topic that both students and teachers have asked me about are email greetings. This is an important part of writing an email; how can you best introduce yourself to someone through an email?

I have notice that emails tend to be the most common way ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers encounter English the most in a workplace setting. This is at least particularly true with many of my clients here in Korea, who might have to send an email to New York or Shanghai or Singapore.

So, let’s look at some different email greetings and introduction.

Before we begin, I should mention that English doesn’t have a very strict sense of “formal” (business level, “suit wearing” type situation) and “informal” (t-shirts and jeans). I can’t speak for many other languages, but English seems a bit unique in how loose the rules for formal and informal are. These phrases, however, will help explain what might sound better in an informal or formal setting.

To Whom it May Concern: This is a very formal style of writing, and works best when you are addressing someone you do not know. So, if you are contacting someone from a company and aren’t quite sure who you are talking to, you can use this greeting.

Dear [receivers name]: Very common expression, and tends to be formal. If you know who you are talking to but want to maintain a formal relationship, use “dear”. Your “receiver” of course is the person who will be reading your email.

Hi [receivers name]: Common as well and tends to be very informal. You should use this expression when talking to someone you know very well and have a very friendly relationship with them.

After you give your greeting, it will come down to you introducing yourself.

It’s [your name]: You should use this when your receiver knows who you are. This can be used in both formal and informal situations. We will often give a reason for emailing after we give our name by using a gerund verb, or a verb + ing or “I wanted to”:

Hi Mark, it’s Steve emailing you about the new shipments…

Dear Suyeon, it’s Steve. I wanted to update you on the current progress on our lesson development…

I am [your name]: You should do this when this is the first time you are emailing someone, or if it had been a long time since you had met. It’s best to give your full name. You may want to give a short introduction about where you work, and what you are emailing about:

To Whom it May Concern,

I am John Smith and I work for the HR department at Company X. I wanted to email you about…

I am Allison Goldsmith and I am emailing you today to apply for the position of marketing intern that was posted on your website on July 7th…

This is [your name]: Tends to be a bit more formal in tone, but should be used when you already know the person.

Dear Mr. Smith,

This is Steve from YuPlex, and I wanted to update you on the orders you placed about a week ago…

My name is [your name] Very similar to “I am” but sounds a bit more formal in tone. This can be used when you are not familiar with the receiver.

Dear Mrs. Hanson,

My name is Steve Sanders and I am interested in applying as a market specialist to your company…

Quiz time!

Read the email below and try to figure out the relationship between the sender and the receiver. Do they know each other? Is it formal or informal? And what is the point of the message?

Dear Mrs. Daisy,

My name is Sarah Johnston, and I work for the HR department. I am emailing you to follow up on the proposal you submitted to us about three weeks ago. We were able to review your suggestions, and would like to meet with you soon in order to go over them in more detail. If you could reply as soon as possible, that would be terrific.


Sarah Johnston, HR Specialist


Do they know each other? No. She uses “my name is”
Formal? Informal? Formal: She uses “Dear” and “my name is”
What is the point of the message? Sarah wants to talk to Mrs. Daisy about a proposal she submitted.


Put you ahead of (phrasal verb) – to be successful, to surpass someone because of ability.
ESL (acronym) – English as a Second Language, referring to people who do not speak English as their first language.
Particularly (adv) – especially, decidedly, uncommonly
Gerund (n.) – a noun made from a verb and “ing” in English which shows a state or action. Often used to describe something continuing like “running” or “emailing”

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