Email Excellence: Email writing course for business professionals Call us at 203.748.9078

Who We Are|News|Contact Us

Email Writing

Shooting Yourself in the Foot

Posted Feb 8, 2013, by Roy Speed

Blunders in email
Here I'll review a catalog of blunders in email that may embarrass you and undermine your professional image. Some are more obvious than others, but I'm sure you can relate to most everything on this list; it should certainly peak your interest.

Or is it "peek your interest"?

It's neither. It's "pique your interest" (from the French piquer, meaning "to prick"). Using peak or peek in this expression is literally nonsense. It suggests that you don't know what you're saying and, worse, don't much care.

That's the trouble with writing: it's infinitely more exacting than speech. Think about it -- In speech, the pique-your-interest error simply does not exist. Misspelling does not exist.

And that's not all:

  • In speech, there are no apostrophes, so you can't mix up it's and its, or you're and your. Nor can you blunder into something like We visited three country's.
  • In speech, there are no headaches with capitalization: company is identical to Company, manager to Manager, department to Department.
  • There are no commas in speech, only pauses, and therefore no comma errors.

The point is that in writing, there are thousands of ways to go wrong. And with email now so dominant in business communication, our writing is on permanent display.

Many errors in email have nothing to do with ignorance of grammar or usage; they represent sheer carelessness, which may be even more damaging than ignorance.

Want your boss to view you as someone who's conscientious, with high standards for everything you touch? Fine. But imagine that in an email to your boss, you write --

What is the client has no activity and
the term date doesn't advances as expected?

What you meant to write:

What if the client has no activity and
the term date doesn't advance as expected?

In email, such errors make it pretty difficult for the boss to see you as "conscientious," with "high standards for everything you touch." Worse, the boss may begin to wonder whether you can even be trusted with writing to customers or clients...

Another common self-inflicted wound is one mentioned above: messing up it's versus its, or you're versus your -- an error to which I myself am prone. Like me, when put to the test, you probably know the core distinctions, that it's is two words, always means it is. All it takes to correct such slips before hitting SEND is a little effort: you stop the world for a moment and look -- really look -- at what you've written. So when we consistently write things like Its Harriet's responsibility to review every order, or Your not going to like this... -- what we reveal about ourselves is that we don't care.

But anyone in business should care, must care. It's not just your personal image that's on the line; in the eyes of many readers, you're your company.

Blunders in email
Genuine ignorance

Here I'll address an entirely different kind of error -- a type that's not lethal, but readers who spot such an error in your writing immediately assume you're less well educated than they are.

Here's a brief catalog of such errors:

  • Misuse of reticent. Example: The client was reticent to sign the contract. Should be reluctant. "Reticence" is one specific type of reluctance: the reluctance to speak. So a person who is shy may be reticent, but you can't be reticent to do something.
  • Misuse of effect. Here's an example of what I mean: This price increase is unlikely to effect sales. Should be affect. When you're looking for the verb that means influence or alter or have an effect on, the verb you're looking for is "affect." (When used as a verb, effect means implement or produce: Administering the correct dosage will effect a complete cure.) These days, many of us try to dodge this affect/effect confusion by using "impact" as a verb: This price increase is unlikely to impact sales. -- Not my cup of tea, but then I'm pretty oldschool about such matters.
  • Misuse of infer. An example of what I mean: In her email to the VP, the client inferred that our process is slow. Should be implied (meaning said in an indirect manner; suggested). Infer has a specific meaning, and it's not just a sophisticated way of saying imply: it means to interpret or draw a conclusion from something someone else has said or written. Example: I think we can safely infer that the client is unhappy. Rule of thumb: If you're tempted to use infer, try substituting conclude; if the substitution doesn't work, you probably mean imply.
  • Misuse of principle. Example: Burnout was the principle reason for Kevin's departure. Should be principal, which is the adjective meaning the primary or chief aspect of something. Principle is always a noun meaning a rule or guideline, so you can never use principle to describe something.
  • Would of. This one's truly mortifying, and the same error occurs in could of and should of. What's meant of course is would have, could have, and should have. This error comes from writing the way we speak (would've).
Remember: Writing is a different version of English, one that's infinitely more exacting than speech. And email = writing.


To Setup retail card please visit official website. Office Retail Cards allow you to download your security product from the internet instead of installing from a CD, ensuring recent versions.

- Posted on Feb 20, 2018 by fernandesgroup

Before you plan to install the Office 2016 or Office 365 on office setup comyour device be it a Computer, Laptop, Mobile Phone or a Tablet, you are required to take few important steps on of them is to remove any existing Office installations from your PC. Just like the previous Office products, Office 2016 & 365 will conflict with the previously installed versions. So, it becomes necessary to remove the previous office files properly.
- Posted on Feb 20, 2018 by fernandesgroup

McAfee provides security for all sorts of users. They supply services and products for home and office at home, enterprise businesses with over 250 workers, and small organizations with under 250 employees, and also venture opportunities. activate mcafee com activate mcafee activate
- Posted on Feb 20, 2018 by ethan

We are providing help and support for Microsoft office Setup and activation. Call us or email us the error or problem, our one of the expert contact you with the suitable perfect solution. Get the MS Office application suite and as per your need and see how it is easy to work with Microsoft Office. www office com setup Install Office
- Posted on Feb 20, 2018 by ethan

We are a third party technical support service. Avast Customer Support is here to help you out with the whole procedure to Download Avast Antivirus online, We not only fix your Avast Support related issues but will guide with how to get started with your new Avast product once it gets installed successfully.We at Avast Tech Support provides service to protect your PC from potential online threats and external attacks like viruses, Trojans, malwares, spywares and phishing scams. And Avast Refund. Call on our Avast Phone Number. Norton Tech Support is a third party service provider and not in any way associated with Norton or any of its partner companies. At Norton Support we offer support for Norton products and sell subscription based additional warranty on computer and other peripheral devices. setup Norton setup
- Posted on Feb 20, 2018 by bella

With an Office 365 subscription, you get the latest Office apps  both the desktop and online versions  and updates when theyre released. Norton is one of the most reliable antivirus providers in the market. Norton is delivering top rated protection from mobile devices and computers. Norton has 3 antivirus packages Microsoft office setup is the software setup file with this setup file you can install on your computer and some of the supported device to use Microsoft office. McAfee have the complete set of features which can protect your digital online and offline life of the computing devices, and it not only help you to protect it but also it can maintain the stability of your computer, increase the speed with inbuilt PC Optimisation tool.
- Posted on Feb 17, 2018 by jon009

Basics Health Fair Health Fitness Finance Ratio Finance Types Finance Terms Direct Finance Key Faculty Of Law Law And Criminal Law News Best Law Advice Faculty Of Law Find Legal Law Online Shopping Guru Shopping And Style
- Posted on Jan 24, 2018 by Roger J. Taylor

Traveling Safety Affordable Travel Plan Business Sources Forex Business Business Role Business Element Business Archives Get Businesses Business Types Business Expert Advice One Health Advice Health Improve Health Levels
- Posted on Jan 24, 2018 by Roger J. Taylor

great post i could really use this when emailing potential clients for my company Nashua Drywall Contractor
- Posted on Dec 23, 2017 by zolesms

travel leisure tips travelling policies ideal travel plan get travel alerts global business travelling faculty of lawyers law and regulations legal law center find rated lawyers lawyer legal practice
- Posted on Dec 20, 2017 by Roger J. Taylor

tours and travel ideas
- Posted on Dec 20, 2017 by Roger J. Taylor

Really thanks for sharing such a great information with us. For Quicken Support Number visit - For HP Support Number visit -
- Posted on Nov 29, 2017 by belajames

Hi Team, I'm looking for a predefined email samples with respect to corporate industry and especially to senior management and business counterparts....
- Posted on Jun 14, 2017 by Garry

Hi,there I would like to know about all different types of emails.And to know how to write cause I had no idea how to write emails... Please help me in a easy way so that I can reply in a correct way. Thank you.
- Posted on May 15, 2017 by Catrionadorothy

When sending email to more than one business should what is best way cc or bcc? You want the message to apply to all business but also want privacy for the email addresses. What is your best advice? Thank you-Lisa
- Posted on Feb 1, 2017 by Lisa Jeffrey

Please help me to draft an e mail for successful launching for new payroll application...
- Posted on Mar 9, 2016 by kiran

Hi All- Please help any buddy to draft a email to my manager for visit my office
- Posted on Aug 17, 2015 by azhar

dear concerns, allowing myself, i really am one of the monst interested member of the blog you have establish to facilitate the needs and wants of subscribers, throught this sight. actually i really recommend this site to my colleages to get through and realize and utelize it in their daily emails, and i want to kindly state that we are facing abit tough challenges that is with subject part of email writing, i wonder if could kindly help me with that. thanks and regards.
- Posted on Feb 21, 2015 by malik ranjbar

hi, me talha , i need sample of email writing to IT Manager for his verbal discussion about training roll in IT section of the company.
- Posted on Dec 31, 2014 by talha

Useful information for all. It's exactly what I tell my corporate clients(ESL/EFL students)when doing a writing workshop. The main difficulty for us teachers, and/or educators, is when people are so convinced that their Franglais, or Germanglais, or whatever, is correct. On the other hand, the non-native speakers go nuts when bosses, or collaborators, don't write proper emails themselves.
- Posted on Sep 12, 2014 by Manny

Hi, I Please explain me how to describe the issue while mail writing. Thank you 9573198125
- Posted on May 21, 2014 by Narsimha

Hi.One more think Hi, i am looking for a sample mails for replying in a correct way to my clients..
- Posted on Mar 20, 2014 by Shihab

i required email format to update status for senior officers..
- Posted on Mar 20, 2014 by Shihab

Great advice. I especially appreciated the guidance you give regarding the use of infer. I don't know how many times I have misused that Word.
- Posted on Feb 15, 2013 by Michael Hoffman

Log in to post a comment
Your name:
Email address:* * will not be displayed.


Our Email Writing blog is about getting your head screwed on straight about what it means to write effectively. It's also about getting more mileage out of email — using our time efficiently.

For issues related to email performance across organizations and business units, please see our blog on Email Leadership.



I'm eager to hear about your challenges with workplace email. I won't reveal anything shared in confidence without your express permission. Email me about any of the following topics:

  • the stakes — how costly email can be, what the stakes are in your job or in your company;
  • best practices — smart approaches, cool techniques;
  • academy-award-winning emails — messages you think embody effective communication (and it's okay if they were written by someone else);
  • email annoyances — things people do in email that bug you, and why.


Useful links

For individuals:

For training managers:

Copyright © 2016 Salient, Inc. All rights reserved.