How to compose an e-mail message.

In the last few years, I've noticed a trend: most students don't know how to compose e-mail messages, even if their lives depend upon it. (PHOTO:

In the last few years, I’ve noticed a trend: Most students don’t know how to compose e-mail messages, even if their lives depend upon it.

That’s quite a pity, because this is actually a compulsory skill taught at the ‘O’ Level.

Perhaps it’s not made so explicit i.e. perhaps teachers don’t teach students how to write e-mail messages per se.

But I know for a fact that teachers do prepare their students to write formal letters – the structure of which can be used in e-mail messages.

So it’s either one of two things:

  • Most people need to be taught specific actions for each scenario in life; or
  • Most people have been taught to the test so much that the ability to transfer and/or apply knowledge learnt in class has been lost entirely on them.

In any case, I’ve also learnt that if people make mistakes and aren’t corrected at specific points in their lives, they go through the rest of their lives carrying said mistake(s) with them.


So that I don’t need to keep on repeating myself over and over again, this is the Mr Laremy guide to crafting an appropriate e-mail message!

(Round of applause, please.)

Dear student,

Thank you for your e-mail message. Please take note of the following:

  1. For future correspondence, you must include a salutation that addresses the recipient of your e-mail or letter e.g. Dear Sir, Dear Madam, Dear Mr Laremy, etc.
  2. You must also include a paragraph or two of text that explains the purpose of your message. A blank e-mail message literally does not say anything.
  3. Use a valediction or a sign-off appropriate to the content and tone of the message e.g. “Yours sincerely” or “Sincerely” since you are a student writing to a teacher, in this case.
  4. An example of how you can craft a simple but appropriate e-mail message:

    “Dear Mr Laremy,

    I have attached my assignment to this e-mail message.

    Thank you.

    Yours sincerely,
    A. Long-Suffering Student”

  5. Other things you will find useful:
    • If your work is late, it is courteous to provide an apology for not being able to meet the deadline. This would help your case if you need to request for an extension to the deadline.
    • The word you want to use is “deadline”, not “dateline”.
    • When writing to teachers, do not adopt a superior tone in your message; we are not your subordinates. This means that I have a bit more leeway in terms of using phrases like “Please take note” – but you don’t.
    • Neither should you adopt a familiar tone with teachers in your message – we may be friendly, but we are not friends.
  6. You can refer to this website for more info about this. There’s a little activity at the end which you can try too.

Thank you.

Best regards,
Mr Laremy

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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