Writing a good email to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time should be easy. Because you haven’t been in contact in a long time, you should have a lot of interesting things to say or questions to ask them. So why do many people struggle when writing one and end up writing a boring one, a very short one or not writing one at all?
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The main reason is because they don’t plan before they start writing the email. Doing two things at once (thinking about what you are going to write at the same time as trying to write it) is never a good thing. So you need to sit down (or walk the dog) and just think of things to ask and tell them.
Read more: Email to your friend
But to plan well, there are two things you need to know before doing it:
- 1. What type of things to write about.
- 2. How to organise what you write.
It is important that you know what type of things you should write about. There are some things that you should include in this type of email (e.g. a funny event, ask them what they are doing etc…) and some things you shouldn’t (e.g. ask them to do a big favor, tell them how perfect your life is etc…).
To learn more about what type of things you should and shouldn’t write in an email to a friend, read my article on ‘how to write emails to friends‘.
When you know what types of things to write about, you need to know how to structure this (know where to write these things in the email). Having a good structure not only makes the email easier to read for your friend, but it also makes it a lot easier and quicker to write for you.
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So let’s now look at the structure you should use when writing an email to a friend you haven’t had contact with in a long time.
Structure of the email
- Part 1 You begin the email by asking them short questions about how they are, what they’ve been doing etc… Between asking them questions, apologise for not contacting them in a long time.
- Part 2 In this part tell them about experiences and situations that have been happening to you or plans that you have in the future. I would also recommend that you ask them questions connected to what you’ve written about yourself. So, if you have told them something about your job, ask them a question about theirs (e.g. ‘Are you still working at …..?’).
- Part 3 In this part write about and ask them questions about shared interests (e.g. football, music etc…) or about people you both know.
- Part 4 If you are going to invite them to something (e.g. a birthday party etc…) or you want to meet them, do it here at the end. If you are going to ask them to do something for you (and only things which they can do very quickly!), you should write it in this part.
- Part 5 Finish the email by saying that your are looking forward to hearing from them. At the very end, pass on a greeting from somebody else (if you have one) if that person has asked you to (e.g. ‘Simon says hi’ or ‘Sarah gives her love’).
So now that you know what structure you should use, see it used in the below example email. Reading this will show you not only the structure you should use, but also give you examples of types of things to write about and English vocabulary and phrases you can use in your own emails.
After the example, you’ll find a quiz/test. This has been designed to both explain how and what to write in this type of email and to make sure that you remember what to do.
To see exercises and examples for over 20 other types of emails and advice on writing them, go to our email exercise menu.
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