Feedback Master: Email

(for the U.S. context) *

Table of Contents

 

General Strengths *

  • This is an excellent email in terms of politeness and appropriateness for your relationship with its recipient!
  • X, without question your email is the best one I’ve checked so far tonight. I’m VERY impressed! (especially with how you provided specific reasons for your interested in joining Dr. Y’s work at the Z, having clearly “done your homework” on both him and the program, so he can be sure your interest is genuine and well-informed ☺— Wow!)
  • Overall, your email is well-written. (Actually, it’s very well-written in the most important aspects of being clear and polite!) ☺
  • Overall, however, I’m very pleased with this evidence of your professional-email-writing abilities in English and have therefore updated your grade for the Professional Email Portfolio assignment to 100% ☺

General Weaknesses *

  • Did you edit this email for this assignment in light of what you’d learned so far in our English 101D course? I strongly suspect you did not, just copying it from your “sent mail” box. I have to admit I’m very disappointed, since I know you are capable of much better than this! ☹
  • I don’t have time to keep carefully giving feedback to this email that you very clearly did not bother to carefully correct in light of what was covered in our “Professional Email Portfolio” unit. . . .Sorry! I’ve already spent too much time giving feedback to this email ☹

Subject Line

(Is my subject line clear?) 

Subject Lines:

  • What was this email’s subject line?
  • X, this email’s only easy-to-correct error is in your subject line, as mentioned above. Because I don’t think it’s fair for me to take points off in two places for just one error, I’ll give you full credit here J
Good subject line:
  • Great job identifying that the subject line fails in its most basic purpose — communicating the main idea of the email ☺
Your subject line needs to be clear (except maybe for “bad news” emails):
  • X, your subject line “Making apology” doesn’t indicate why you’re sorry. “Apology for missing last week’s seminar— . . . .” would be clearer. (For English speakers at least, the #1 goal of a subject line is to inform email recipients of the topic of the email so clearly that they don’t need to open your email in order to find out why you’ve written — Make sense?)
  • X, your subject line “Making an apology” isn’t really a clear or complete summary of your email.  “Apology and request for an extension” would be better (unless you are very concerned that Dr. Y will be upset with your request and you therefore feel his first contact with the request should be accompanied by a complete explanation for why you can’t meet the deadline— which obviously cannot be communicated in something as short a subject line!) Remember: For English speakers at least, the #1 goal of a subject line is to inform email recipients of the topic of your email so clearly that they don’t need to open your email in order to find out why you’ve written — Make sense?
  • X, if I had been Sung and had received this email, I would have been upset with you even before I opened it because, according to English norms, its subject line is impolite. First, it doesn’t clearly express the reason you’ll be missing class tomorrow and second, it contains many other errors (suggesting you don’t respect me enough to think I’m worth checking your emails carefully before you send them to me! L)
    • Regarding the first problem, how can you restructure the grammar of your subject line, so it doesn’t just inform Sung of two facts, namely —
      • You’ll be skipping class tomorrow;
      • You’ll be doing your Project 3 work tomorrow

    — but instead explains that you’ll be skipping class tomorrow because you need to work on your project 3 (during class time)?

    • Regarding the second problem, you’ll see if you compare your subject line to that of the top 20-30 emails in your email inbox that it’s not standard English to:
      • Write longer email subject lines than necessary. That is, compact email subject lines are preferred — and yours definitely can be made at least a little more compact!
      • Begin email subject lines with a base form verb (e.g., “Skip class tomorrow”). Instead, English emails are more likely to begin email subject lines with an “-ing” form verb or noun (e.g., “Skipping class tomorrow”).
      • End an email subject line with a period/full stop (e.g., Tomorrow Skip the Art Gr 672 Class and Do My Project 3’s Work.).
      • Capitalize all key words in your email subject line (e.g., Tomorrow Skip the Art Gr 672 Class and Do My Project 3’s Work).

Remember subject lines provide your email recipients with their first impression of your email (as well as of you if you haven’t previously met!) — and it can sometimes be difficult for people to escape the effects of less-than-positive first impressions, even if there are no problems in later communication. (Like my dad sometimes says, “You have only one chance to make a good first impression”!)

  • X, subject lines provide your email recipients with their first impression of your email (as well as of you if you haven’t previously met!) and it can sometimes be difficult for people to escape the effects of less-than-positive first impressions, even if there are no problems in later communication — so be careful always to check for easy-to-correct errors in your email subject line, e.g., spelling errors. (Like my dad sometimes says, “You have only one chance to make a good first impression”!) Make sense?
  • Do you think the original email’s subject line is okay? ☺ Remember an email’s subject line is arguably its most important component. As my dad likes to say, “You have only one chance to make a good first impression.” For English speakers at least, the #1 goal of a subject line is to inform email recipients of the topic of the email so clearly that they don’t need to open your email in order to find out why you’ve written
  • ☺X, your subject line would be more informative (and therefore better) if it were something like “Unable to join this week’s Skype call” — Remember, for English speakers at least, the #1 goal of a subject line is to inform email recipients of the topic of the email so clearly that they don’t need to open your email in order to find out why you’ve written — Make sense?
  • X, I think you could make your subject line even clearer so that readers immediately know why you’re emailing them (even before they open your email). Can you figure out how? (How can you briefly describe the kind of mistake you’re apologizing for?)
  • X, your specific request would be immediately clearer to your readers if you also included the title of the specific textbook you’re requesting in your subject line — Make sense?
  • X, your subject line would be more informative (and therefore better) if it were something like “Updating information about my key access request” (or even more succinctly: “Updating my key access request information”) — Make sense?
  • X, it’s pretty easy to guess that the purpose of your email is to request an opportunity to work for Y, but just to let you know, English speakers will usually more directly say that — Can you figure out how?
  • X, it’s not too difficult to guess what your email is about based on your subject line, but because it contains both the nonstandard phrasing “requesting for” (though you should easily be able to fix this via COCA ☺) and has “appointment” as an uncountable noun (which, as you’ll see in COCA, is not the preferred way of expressing your meaning), as a reader, I have to carefully think about what you probably mean — I don’t automatically and immediately know. Can you use COCA to figure out a more standard way of expressing your meaning in English, so your readers can quickly and automatically understand the purpose of your email?
  • X, I’m afraid your subject line is a little vague, which is something English speakers try to avoid (i.e., It’s not clear from your subject line whether you are requesting that Mr. U review the long-range plan, letting him know the results of someone else’s review of the long-range plan, asking him for his opinion regarding whether a review of the long-range plan is needed, etc? Remember, for English speakers at least, the #1 goal of a subject line is to inform email recipients of the topic of the email so clearly that they don’t need to open your email in order to find out why you’ve written — Make sense?
  • X, it would help Dr. X immediately know what kind of “graduate student opportunity” you’re looking for if your subject line were more informative, e.g. “Request for consideration of my application to join your lab.” Being careful to ensure Dr. X has immediate access to the information he’s likely to care most about (even before he opens your email!) will show your respect and consideration of what’s most convenient/best for him — Make sense?
  • X, your subject line would be clearer if it were something like “Applying for your advertised [whatever the advertised job is] job” — Then Dr. X would know (even before he opened your email!) that you’re applying for the job (vs. just asking for more information about it), and in case he has advertised more than one job recently, exactly which job you’re applying for. Being careful to ensure Dr. X has immediate access to the information he’s likely to care most about (even before he opens your email!) will show your respect and consideration of what’s most convenient/best for him — Make sense?
  • Yes, although to make your subject line more informative and therefore more useful to your email recipient (thereby showing your respect for Dr. X’s time), you may also want to mention in your subject what you want the meeting to be about, e.g., when I wrote to a professor in psychology to ask if we could meet to discuss my doing my dissertation research in his lab, my email subject line was “Request for an appointment to discuss interdisciplinary ERP research.” (The only time I tend not to give details about what I want a meeting to be about in my subject line is when I think it’s very important that my email recipient’s first contact with my specific request include all my reasons for why he/she should allow our meeting — which I obviously cannot communicate in something as short a subject line — because I’m concerned my email recipient may immediately decide he/she is not willing to meet with me if initially given only partial contact with the reasons for my request in my subject line. Make sense?)
  • X, the purpose of an email subject line is to let the email recipient know the topic of the email (so they don’t have to open your email in order to find out why you’ve written).  Uninformative subject lines are considered unprofessional and may result in your email recipient deleting your email without looking at it at all (because spam email basically always contains uninformative/misleading subject lines). A much better, more informative subject line would be something like “Will you be taking any fall 2012 graduate students?”  (Also, you misspelled “may” in “To whom it may concern.”)
  • X, FYI: It’s totally okay to use your email client’s default “RE:” subject line (e.g., “RE: p-card”) when writing an email that continues a previous email conversation. In fact, doing so helps your reader immediately to know your email’s context, so unless you’re changing the focus of the conversation, it’s actually better and more informative to use the default subject line — Make sense?
  • Yes ☺ (because, as you probably know, using your email client’s default “RE:” subject line when replying to a previous email conversation helps your reader immediately to know your email’s context ☺. The only time you’ll probably not want to use the default “RE:” subject line when replying to a previous email conversation is when your new email changes the focus of your conversation — and then it’s probably best not to reply to the previous conversation but instead to start a new one)
  • Actually, your subject line for this email isn’t entirely clear, but it is perfectly appropriate for the kind of email you’re writing. That is, when writing “bad news” emails, it makes sense that you’d sometimes want your email recipient to understand the context before hearing your “bad news” — and of course, subject lines are too short to allow that. . . .so it makes sense in these cases for you to provide clear explanation of the bad news in your email only, not in both the email and the subject line
  • ☺I usually tend not to give details about what I want a meeting to be about in my subject line only when I think it’s very important that my email recipient’s first contact with my specific request include all my reasons for why he/she should allow our meeting — which I obviously cannot communicate in something as short a subject line — because I’m concerned my recipient may immediately decide he/she is not willing to meet with me if initially given only partial contact with the reasons for my request in my subject line. Make sense?
  • X, your subject line for this email isn’t actually entirely clear (because it doesn’t give Mr. Y any clue about why you’re apologizing, thereby forcing him to open and read your email in order to find out). However, I think that’s okay for such a sensitive situation because Mr. Y really does need to read your entire email (or he won’t understand that 1) you really are sorry, but also that 2) . . .).

Your subject line should not mislead readers about the purpose of your email:

  • X, your subject line doesn’t inform your email recipient of the real purpose of your email (i.e. to request an appointment for advice regarding which classes you should take)
  • X, your subject line would be clearer if it were something like “Question about summer work” — Then Professor X would know (even before he/she opened your email!) that you’re asking about summer work (vs. announcing that you’re excited about a summer job you’ve just been offered, which is what your current subject line followed by an exclamation point [!] suggests you mean) — Make sense?
  • You’re not really requesting permission to be absent, but rather you’re explaining why you need to be absent and apologizing for it. Therefore, a subject line like “apology for class absence” would be better.
  • Your subject line would better represent the actual content of your email if it said something like “Sorry I have not finished the new abstract!” — Make sense? After all, you’re not just wanting to inform your professor that you’re not yet finished with the abstract, but also to apologize to her about that, right?
  • “Help: with student certification” — The meaning of “student certification” here is ambiguous (i.e., Your reader may guess from this subject line that you are asking for certification of your student-level — vs. professional-level — ability to do some task. When reading your subject line, he or she is unlikely to guess that what you really want is certification of your student status). Therefore, a clearer subject line (e.g. “Help with certification of student status) would be better.
Compact subject lines are preferred:
  • Perfect in both grammar and politeness☺ (Though the more compact “Request for an appointment” is probably more common)
  • X, doesn’t email client software basically always display both email senders’ names and email subject lines? Therefore, do you need to include your name in your email subject line?
Appropriate “name-dropping” can increase the likelihood of your email producing the effect you want:
  • X, your subject line “Research information” doesn’t clearly communicate to X before she opens your email what your email is about. A clearer subject line would be something like “Per the advice of Y, requesting your most recent research papers” (Because X probably knows and respects your professor, your “name-dropping” his name in your subject line is likely to motivate her to 1) open your email and 2) do what you have asked based on his advice — Make sense? [If this doesn’t make sense, please read the “Punchy Subject Lines” segment of this article on “Top Cover Letter Trends” for more explanation.])
Subject line phrasing errors
  • X, I’m afraid that because of its phrasing error, your subject line is a little hard to figure out — however, I’m sure you’ll be able to correct this error very quickly if you do the following exact phrase search (including its quotation marks) in Google: “TA office *” J
Gerunds (“-ing” verbs) and nouns preferred for beginning subject lines in English:
  • X, if you review your email inbox, you’ll see that U.S. English speakers prefer writing email subject lines using either a noun or an “-ing” verb (i.e., “Apologizing for delay. . .”), not base form verbs (i.e., “Apologize for delay. . . .”).
Don’t end subject lines with a period/full stop (though question marks and exclamation points are okay):
  • Also, FYI: In U.S. English, subject lines (although they may end with a question mark or exclamation point where appropriate) are never marked with an ending period/full stop
  • X, your subject line is clear, but in the U.S., it’s considered incorrect to end a subject line with a period/full stop
  • I just want to let you know that in U.S. English, it’s considered incorrect to end an email subject line with a period/full stop (e.g. Introduction passage.). Because subject lines give your readers their first contact with you and your message, you really don’t want to make mistakes in this very important part of your email — make sense?  (Like my dad likes to say, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression.” First impressions are important because once they’re made, they are difficult — although not necessarily impossible — to change. I’m therefore very sure you don’t want to give your email readers a bad first impression regarding your English proficiency, even if it’s perhaps due only to a difference in American vs. Indian English email writing style!)
Easy-to-correct spelling/capitalization/punctuation errors in subject lines are likely to have a strong negative impact on recipients’ impression of you ☹:
  • X, if I had been Sung and had received this email, I would have been upset with you even before I opened it because, according to English norms, its subject line is impolite. First, it doesn’t clearly express the reason you’ll be missing class tomorrow and second, it contains many other errors (suggesting you don’t respect me enough to think I’m worth checking your emails carefully before you send them to me! L)
  • X, subject lines provide your email recipients with their first impression of your email (as well as of you if you haven’t previously met!) and it can sometimes be difficult for people to escape the effects of less-than-positive first impressions, even if there are no problems in later communication — so be careful always to check for easy-to-correct errors in your email subject line, e.g., spelling errors. (Like my dad sometimes says, “You have only one chance to make a good first impression” — this is, of course, especially important when the email is about you looking for a major professor or a job!) Make sense?
  • These errors may seem small, but actually they’re really important because subject lines provide your email recipients with their first impression of your email (as well as of you if you haven’t previously met!), and it can sometimes be difficult for people to escape the effects of less-than-positive first impressions, even if there are no problems in later communication. (Like my dad sometimes says, “You have only one chance to make a good first impression” — Make sense?)
  • Yes, except the spelling error it contains suggests you don’t respect your email recipient enough to think  he/she is worth the time it takes to check that your spelling is correct before sending your email! (though I do realize you were writing under time pressure because your assignment was already overdue)

Greeting/First Sentence

Is the way I begin my email appropriate in light of my relationship to my recipient? (i.e., Are my greeting and first sentence(s) appropriate?)

  • X, this email’s only easy-to-correct error is in your greeting, as mentioned above. Because I don’t think it’s fair for me to take points off in two places for just one error, I’ll give you full credit here J

Greetings:

Due to the low power distance characterizing U.S. culture, adults in the U.S. context who are familiar with one another largely use first/given names only when addressing one another — even if there is a significant gap in their actual hierarchical status (e.g., professor/student; boss/employee)
  • X, English speakers don’t usually include both a person’s first and last names in their email greetings. “Dear Justin,” is fine if that’s what other grad students in your department call him; if not, you can say “Dear Professor Peters,” (or Dear Dr. Peters), whichever is most standard in your department
  • Yes, “Prof. X” is fine if that’s what other grad students in your department call him J
  • You can just call me Monica. You’ll see if you check half a dozen expert English speakers’ emails in your email inbox that using both a person’s first/given name and last/family name is highly unusual in at least the U.S. context. (In fact, it’s likely to suggest that you just copied and pasted your email recipient’s name into your email and that you respect him/her so little, you didn’t think it worth your time to correct the formatting so that — as is standard in North American English [and I think British English also] — it includes ONLY her first/given name [or ONLY her title + last/family name]. I assume you do not want your email recipient’s first impression to be that you disrespect him/her!!! )
  • X, English speakers don’t usually include both a person’s first and last names in their email greetings. For your first contact with this professor, you should address her as “Dear Dr. Bloebaum.” If she signs her reply to your email as “Christina” (or with a shortened form of her name, such as “Chris”), you can probably then change to using the email greeting “Dear Christina” (or “Dear Chris”) — Make sense?
  • X, is “Sang” your professor’s first/given name or his/her last/family name? In the U.S., email greetings to someone you don’t know well tend to consist either of just “Dear” + a person’s first name (e.g. “Dear Monica,”), or in the case of someone with their Ph.D., possibly “Dear Dr. LastName.”
    • It is considered impolite in U.S. culture to address someone using just their last name, except in a very few situations (e.g. between soldiers in some contexts). If 1) the person doesn’t have a title like “Dr.” and 2) you don’t know whether they’re comfortable with you addressing them by their first name, you need to use the default title of “Ms.” or “Mr.” when you address them by their last name. If, however, they’ve invited you to call them by their first name, then it really is okay—and actually, it’s good—for you to do that. (And in my case, please do call me by my first name, Monica.)
    • “Smith” is basically only a last/family name in English. Do English speakers generally refer to one another only by their last/family name, especially in professional/academic interactions?
    • my guess is that in English order the personal signature should be “John Smith,” not “Smith John,” because “Smith” is basically always a last/family name in English ☺
    • Is “Brown” your friend’s first name? If it’s his/her last name, is that what everyone calls him/her? (I’m going to assume so, because your email has so few errors, I think you probably already know that ordinarily it is considered impolite in U.S. culture to address someone using just their last name.) The only exceptions that I can think of are: 1) where everyone else who shares your relationship/status with your email recipient calls him or her by their last name for some reason (e.g. because his/her first name is difficult to pronounce or because so many people you both know share his/her first name) or 2) you are someone in the military talking to another person in the military who is a peer or subordinate.
  • Because I’ve given permission for you to call me Monica, you should actually begin your email with something like “Dear Monica.”
In the U.S., overt markers of hierarchy — such as titles — are largely avoided
  • Yes (assuming Dr. X prefers that you address him by title + last name rather than by his first name, as is the norm between grad students and the professors in my department) J
  • X, FYI: in English, the words “instructor” and “teacher” are not considered titles, so we never write “Dear Instructor Richards” (or “Dear Instructor”) or “Dear Teacher Richards” (or “Dear Teacher”)
    • “Dear officer”—X, to whom did you send this email? Basically, the only people American English speakers address directly as “officer” are police officers, but I’m sure you didn’t send your email to a police officer! If you don’t know the name of the person you’re emailing, you should try to find out their likely job title via their organization’s website, e.g. “Dear ISSO advisor,.” If you’re still not sure, you can use the name of the organization “Dear ISSO,” or more informally, simply “Hi.” If you do know the title and name of the person you are emailing, however, you should always use them, e.g. “Dear Ms. Smith,.”
When titles are used in the U.S., the standard structure is “title + last name”
  • English speakers don’t usually include both a person’s first and last names in their email greetings. “Dear Kathy,” is fine if she doesn’t have her Ph.D.; if she does, depending on the formality norms of your school or department, you can say either “Dear Kathy,” or “Dear Dr. Petersen,”
    • X, why are you using Dr. Y’s first and last name? This is highly unusual in at least American English (I don’t think I’ve never seen Americans write greetings using someone’s full name, e.g. “Dear Dr. Thomas Foster,”) and suggests that maybe you just copied and pasted his name info into your email before sending it without even bothering to delete the extraneous given name — i.e. that you didn’t individually write this email to him, and therefore that it’s an email he can (and probably should!) ignore — that’s probably not the impression you want to give in the very first line of your email!
  • “Smith” is basically only a last/family name in English. Do English speakers generally refer to one another only by their last/family name, especially in professional/academic interactions?
  • X, is “Sang” your professor’s first/given name or his/her last/family name? In the U.S., email greetings to someone you don’t know well tend to consist either of just “Dear” + a person’s first name (e.g. “Dear Monica,”), or in the case of someone with their Ph.D., possibly “Dear Dr. LastName.”
    • Is “Bob” your email recipient’s last name? If not, I should probably let you know that in American English we normally use the title “Dr.” only with someone’s last name (although sometimes academic departments/communities do develop different norms, either for all community members or just for that one person). Therefore, if most of your academic peers call him “Dr. Bob” even though “Bob” is his first name, you can appropriately do the same. However, if not, you should follow general American norms and call him “Dr. + his last name.” (Because you have no other politeness errors in your email, however, I will assume for grading purposes that you’re addressing your email recipient as Dr. Bob because that’s how other students in your department address him, and therefore that this is not a mistake for which I should take points off.)
    • X, is “Linda” this professor’s last/family name? Based on at least my U.S. context experience, although it is possible, it’s unusual to call someone “Dr.” + given/first name. If I were you, I would find out what your (U.S.) classmates call this professor. If it is “Dr. Linda,” then you should be able safely to follow their example, but if it’s not, you probably don’t want to call her “Dr. Linda,” either — Make sense?
  • X, in the U.S., greetings following the pattern “Dear [title] [last name/family name]” are probably used for 99% of formal emails addressed to a specific person. While “Dear Sir” and “Dear Ma’am” are technically acceptable, in the U.S. context they sound very old-fashioned/nonstandard.
Needs a greeting
  • X, if you’re starting an email conversation on a new topic with someone (particularly someone of higher status!), it’s a good idea to include a greeting in your first email on this new topic — even if it’s just a more informal greeting such as “Dr. Joeng,” vs. the more formal “Dear Dr. Joeng,.” To start directly talking about a brand new topic of email conversation without any greeting at all is likely to confuse your email recipient (because emails without greetings in English are so reliably embedded in a continuing email conversation that an initial email without a greeting is very likely to make your email recipient wonder “Did I miss something? Were we talking about this earlier? Oh, dear, what’s wrong with my brain? I don’t remember this email conversation at all!!!”) Your email recipient may also feel disrespected, like you don’t think he/she is worth the time it takes to follow the norms for introducing new topics of email conversation and that’s why you’re willing to confuse him or her in this way. Make sense?
Informal greetings in U.S. culture
  • Yes, it’s fine for someone you already know well (Though FYI: If you had been writing to someone with whom your relationship is more formal than informal instead of to someone like Art — with whom you apparently have a more “comfortable”/less formal relationship J — you’d want to end your greeting with a comma rather than the more casual exclamation point. Make sense?)
  • You may want to consider using the more formal “Dear Dr. Y” for your first contact with someone of higher status, especially when making a request. That’s a little safer than immediately assuming it’s okay to use the more informal “Title + name” greeting — though, unless Dr. Y demonstrates in that first meeting that he definitely prefers being addressed more formally, English speakers will often switch to more informal forms such as “Title + name” very shortly after that first contact! Make sense?
  • X, if you don’t yet know Y and so don’t know whether she’s a “normal” English speaker who is okay with being addressed informally even by someone of lower status, it’s best to initially address her by “Dear + title + last name” (cf. my initial email to Dr. West/Rob). If her reply to your email is signed just “Y,” you can probably safely switch to calling her “Y” at that time (cf. my later email to Dr. West/Rob). Another reason you’d want to use the more formal “Dear + title + last name” when initially contacting someone of higher status is that regardless of whether or not you will ultimately call them by their first name, it’s valuable to make it clear at the beginning of your relationship that you really do respect them and their status — Make sense? (I won’t take any points off for this because I suspect you learned how to greet directly from the various emails I’ve written, but that you hadn’t encountered enough examples to have figured out when greeting directly is appropriate vs. when it isn’t!)
  • “Hello, [X],” is not a formal greeting, so unless this is one of several emails you’ve exchanged with Dr. Gilbert, you probably wouldn’t want to use it until you’ve gotten to know him better—Make sense? (Please ask me if it doesn’t!)
  • FYI: Between roommates and close friends, email greetings much more frequently consist of just the roommate’s name (or sometimes “Hi” + roommate’s name, e.g. “Hi Tom”) rather than the semi-formal “Hello. For example, if my roommate were to write the kind of email you wrote, her email greeting would probably just be,

“Monica,

There is a. . . .”

or

“Hi Monica,

There’s a. . . .”

Combining U.S. markers of formal and informal greetings
  • A greeting beginning with “Hi” is informal and to an American English email recipient wouldn’t “match” how you (formally) address “Dr. Hu” using his/her title and last name. Americans will almost certainly feel that if you use the informal “Hi,” you must also use the informal “given name.” However, I realize that Dr. Hu is almost certainly not an American and therefore may well prefer that you use the formal “Dr. Hu” even if you otherwise follow U.S. norms allowing graduate students to write relatively informal emails to their professors. Therefore, I won’t reduce your score because of this formality “mismatch.” However, do try not to mix levels of formality when emailing Americans since they are likely to feel such formality “mismatch” is inappropriate.
  • FYI: Although for some professors/departments, departmental norms are to address some or all professors as “Doc” rather than “FirstName” (my department’s norm) or “Dr. LastName” (the norm for some U.S. departments with mostly non-U.S. faculty and for all departments at many non-U.S. universities), actually the term of address “Doc” is quite uncommon (at least in the U.S.), so you should only use it if you’ve heard several other people use it to refer to the person to whom you’re writing.
    • X, although the norms in some U.S. university departments are to address one or more professors as “Prof,” in many departments such as mine, the title “Prof” is never used, possibly because Americans view the title “Prof” as being so informal that it risks communicating disrespect. It’s therefore best in the American context if you only use the title “Prof” for professors you know are okay with it, based on how you’ve seen them react to other students who use it—Make sense?
Nonstandard greetings:
  • X, although you’re right that U.S. Americans often greet one another by asking “How are you today?” when speaking, if you search your email inbox for this phrase, you’ll see we don’t usually do that in emails (and on the rare occasions when we do, we don’t do it in the greeting — we would do it in the first sentence of the body) — Sorry that the way we show politeness in speaking and in emailing isn’t quite the same ☹!
  • FYI: I’ve never seen English speakers begin emails with phrasing such as “I hope you are fine.” A better option might be for X to begin this email with a self-introduction (especially if the class he’s taking is a large class, so the professor might not immediately be able to match his name to who he actually is!)
  • “Name Hi,” isn’t a standard greeting in the U.S. (though “Hi [Name],” has become very common!)
  • Your “double” opening is unnecessary:

X,

Hi, X,

The beginning of your email would be better if you opened only with “Hi, X” and began the body of your email with ” I appreciate that you. . . .”

Punctuating greetings:
  • Also, FYI: U.S. American English punctuation norms require a period/full stop after (abbreviated) honorifics such as “Dr.” and “Mr.” and “Ms.,” though British English punctuation norms do not. Although the British style is becoming increasing accepted in the U.S., American readers trained to follow U.S. American English punctuation norms may still view the lack of a period/full stop after honorifics as a sign that your English grammar knowledge is weak. This is probably not the impression you want to give.
  • FYI: English business-letter writing style does seem to be moving toward “open punctuation” which doesn’t require a comma after greetings or complimentary closings. However, in the U.S. context, open punctuation is still uncommon. As a result, many Americans (or non-native English speakers who’ve studied American English, perhaps including your professors) believe that business email greetings should be followed by a comma or colon (e.g. “Dear Professor X,”) and complimentary closings should be followed by a comma (e.g. “Best,”). As a result, if you use open punctuation in the US. context, your readers may view the absence of greeting/complimentary closing punctuation in your emails as a sign that your English grammar knowledge is weak. This is probably not the impression you want to give.
  • X, although it’s possible in professional contexts to write a greeting that ends with an exclamation point, it’s extremely rare (perhaps 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000) — and more “traditional” (particularly older) readers are likely to view it as nonprofessional. Therefore, it’s risky to do so when writing someone of higher status whom you don’t know very well. Make sense?
  • FYI: It’s highly unusual to include exclamation points in professional email greetings because they decrease the “professional” appearance of your email. (Though I realize I encourage— because I prefer — a much more informal relationship with my students, because I think grad students can handle having someone as both teacher and “friend,” without losing their ability to learn from the person because they take take the relationship too casually!
  • Please check your beginning-of-email punctuation J
Styling greetings:
  • Why did you type your professor’s name in bold? It looks like you’ve just copied-and-pasted the spelling of his name from a website or somewhere else into an email you originally wrote to someone else (suggesting you frequently have the problem you’re apologizing for in this email!). This unusually bolded greeting also suggests that you don’t feel your professor is worth the time it takes to appropriately personalize your email (assuming you did copy-and-paste the email content), e.g., by using an email-appropriate title to address him (even though you did personalize the email enough to make sure it included the relevant-to-your-request-for-an-extension May 1 date!)

Body

Is the body of my email polite and appropriate in light of my relationship to my recipient? (e.g., Do I use “politeness language” where it’s needed? Do I explain why I’m making my request or why whatever I’m apologizing for happened? Do I show respect for my email recipient’s time by getting to the point quickly? Do I avoid inappropriately informal language?)

Is my email clear? (e.g., Does my email provide an appropriate amount of detail and do I use appropriate connecting words to clearly communicate the relationship between my ideas?) (See SRW, pp. 7-11, 56-57, 94-99, 118-119)

Praise:
  • Fantastic job clearly explaining the reason for your request (and without disrespecting Dr. X!) ☺
  • Yes, the amount of detail you’ve provided is PERFECT J J J
  • Yes, this apology is VERY well written, perfectly balancing an appropriate amount of apology with an appropriate amount of explanation for why the video problem happened J
  • Yes, your email is very polite and appropriate for a quick “business” message like this one J
Starting your email right:
  • I see based on your email below and several others I’ve received from you that you very frequently begin your emails with something like “Hope this mail find you at the good time.” This is a highly unusual way to begin your emails in English, as you’ll see if you check your email inbox. You therefore may want to consider not beginning your emails this way in the future. . . .
  • X, the body of your email is fantastic! It is contains all the information Dr. Y is likely to need to be able to decide whether or not to meet with you. . . . and no excess information — great job! ☺
  • FYI: It’s conventional to begin English emails with “I am writing this email to. . .” vs. “I write this email to. . .”
  • Please check my “example emails to people I don’t know“and other emails you’ve received from native English speakers that begin with the writer introducing himself/herself. Although English speakers frequently introduce themselves when speaking as “I am. . .,” is that the standard way of introducing oneself in English via email?
    • X, although English speakers reply “It’s X” when they knock on someone’s door and the person answers “Who is it?,” we don’t begin emails that way. To introduce ourselves to someone we don’t know in emails, we ordinarily begin “My name is. . . ” or “I’m [status or name].” Please see my models of this in my “Example emails to people I don’t know.
    • You indicate that you know Dr. X, but your email is written in a way that implies you don’t know him: “This is Y, a graduate student transferred. . . .”  If Dr. X already knows you, won’t he also know that you’ve transferred into his department? I’m afraid this beginning seems awkward.
  • Phrases such as “I hope you are having a great time”/”I hope everything is going well” are almost never used at the beginning of the body of English emails, but only in the closing and only for people with whom you have a personal relationship (vs. a “formal” academic relationship).
  • X, although you’re right that U.S. Americans often greet one another by asking “How are you today?” when speaking, we don’t usually do that in emails — Sorry that the way we show politeness in speaking and in emailing isn’t quite the same ☹!
  • I’m curious why you wrote “I have got your email.” Won’t Lulu assume that? Unless you have reason to think she feels uncertain about whether you received it, I think it would be more natural (in English, anyway) to begin with something like “Thanks for your email.”
  • English speakers don’t usually use the word “greetings” to begin a professional email. After our “Dear Dr. X,” we instead tend to use something like “I have to apologize” or “I just have to apologize” to make our beginning a little indirect and therefore polite. Currently, your email beginning is polite, but not conventional in how it expresses politeness.
  • Beginning your email with “I apologize for [X]” is too direct in English to sound polite (or genuine, actually). It would be better if you began your email with something like “I want to/need to apologize for. . . .” Also, if you end your first sentence with an exclamation point (!), it will strengthen the force of your sentence and make it sound like you really are sorry. Make sense?
Being clear:
  • X, it’s a little unclear in your revision specifically what Y wants his professor to do. Does he want to get the professor’s advice in a meeting? Does he want the professor to reply back to his email with written comments on his paper? Although you’ve done an OUTSTANDING job of expressing Y’s request in a polite way ☺, because of the value Americans place on not wasting time, it’s also important that his email be clear enough that additional exchange of emails isn’t needed to clarify exactly what he’s asking — make sense?
  • it will help your instructor if you could propose a few times that DO fit your schedule, e.g., “I would really appreciate __ you could reschedule it to an earlier time and help me out in this situation. Is there any chance I could take it Monday morning or afternoon (but not between 2-4, when I have another final) or any time Tuesday afternoon. I’m so sorry for the trouble!”
  • Please see my comment above about my uncertainty regarding whether your email is actually impolite (according to English norms) or simply not clearly expressing what you actually meant to say.
Use polite request markers (e.g., “could” and “would”) when making requests
  • You (very appropriately!) used the polite “It would be very kind of you. . . ” phrase, but you also need to add a polite request marker to your actual request for an extension. Can you figure out from http://www.learnenglish-online.com/grammar/modals/requests.html an appropriate polite request marker to add?
Explain why whatever you’re apologizing for happened/why you’re making your request:
  • I’m giving you partial credit for this because I can see you’ve tried to explain why you missed your scheduled meeting with Dr. X. However, because you didn’t explain specifically what the work appointment was that caused you to miss your meeting with him/why you couldn’t reschedule the work appointment so you could go to your (pre-existing!) appointment with Dr. X, it is still very likely that upon receiving this email, Dr. X felt you don’t really respect him or his undoubtedly busy schedule, since you’re apparently willing not only to 1) miss an appointment with him but also 2) not tell him about it until afterward (preventing him from being able to schedule another appointment during that time!). In such a situation, therefore, to avoid your email recipient feeling disrespected, you need not only to explain why you had no choice except to miss your previously scheduled appointment with him/her, but also why you couldn’t let him/her know earlier that you would miss that appointment — make sense?
Explicitly express regret in apology emails:
  • Are you glad to miss Sung’s class? Your email informs Sung that you’ll miss her class tomorrow, but it doesn’t say anything showing that you regret that your scheduled meeting with your participants prevents you from attending class L. When reading your email, therefore, Sung could very easily conclude that you are happy to have an excuse to miss her class and, as a result, find her initial feeling that you disrespect her (based on your subject line!) confirmed by what’s in your email itself. . . .
  • Also, did you make your plans 1) before or 2) after you knew the schedule for Sung’s workshop? (Because you haven’t said 1) that you made these plans before you knew about Sung’s workshop or 2) that you tried to arrange another time to meet with your participants but they had no other time available, it sounds like you may have made these plans because you wanted to avoid attending Sung’s workshop. This possible interpretation of your email could again make Sung feel very disrespected.)
  • P.S. It just occurred to me that if Sung’s definition of “workshop days” means that students can work independently on their class projects during class time (as long as they first inform her of their work plan), although your email does still need to be rephrased to be more clear, it might not be as impolite as I first understood it to be! J

Don’t negate your apology

  • X, so that you don’t negate your apology above by (apparently) continuing to “argue,” you may want to phrase this as “to show you what I mean.” Make sense?

Don’t include an offer to “make it right” if that’s not actually possible

  • Do you think there really is a chance that you can do something to remedy this problem? Isn’t it already too late? (If it already is too late, it’s better just to acknowledge your mistake — which you’ve done very well J — and express your regret for it. Additionally including in your email an offer to somehow “make it right” is meaningless — and unnecessarily lengthens your email — if in fact there’s nothing that can be done now to fix your mistake. Make sense?)
  • If you really think there is some way your mistake can be remedied, asking Dr. Kruse to reply (presumedly with directions for how you should fix the mistake) is fine. If, however, you are sure there is now no way that you can fix this problem (e.g., by administering to students the right questionnaire) because it’s already too late, then 1) There is no point in asking whether there’s a way you can remedy this problem (because you already know there isn’t) and 2) you probably shouldn’t inconvenience Dr. Kruse even more by asking that he use up some of his valuable time by replying to you. (He may reply, anyway, but unless you really need a reply, you don’t want to further inconvenience him by asking for a reply). Make sense?)
If you want to maximize the probability of your emails producing the response you want from their recipients, you must tailor each email specifically to its target recipient
  • X, everything in this email suggests it’s a mass email you wrote one version of and then sent to lots of different professors after just changing the name included in the greeting (you even used “at your prestigious university” to avoid having to individualize the university name for each email ☹). If I were Dr. Y, I’d be skeptical about whether you know anything at all about the research being done in his lab, except maybe that his area of specialization loosely matches yours. I therefore wouldn’t feel particularly motivated to consider your application! “This student didn’t read what’s available online about what I do; why should I spend my time reading this email about what he wants to do?” Your email would be much more convincing if you cited specific points of Dr. Y’s research that interest you and specific ways in which they correlate to your background and interests, thereby demonstrating you’re making this request knowing full well what you’re asking and that you really DO think he’ll be a good match for you and you’ll be a good match for him — make sense?

Don’t malign others:

  • Are you sure it’s polite/professional to describe another professor using strongly negative terms like “inflexible”? Won’t that make Dr. Smith wonder if you’ll also feel free to talk about her (= Dr. Smith) in this strongly negative way when you’re emailing other professors — and won’t that therefore make her (Dr. Smith) unwilling to trust/recommend you?
Avoid emoticons/emoji in professional email
Avoid overusing exclamation points/question marks, particularly in professional email:
  • Do you see any problems with using so many exclamation points in a single, short email?
  • I should let you know that it looks like you are developing a habit I also have to fight because I’m an expressive type of person, namely ending an overly high ratio of sentences with an exclamation points (= “!”). I know it’s hard to avoid overusing exclamation points because they’re one of few available ways we have to express emotion and interest in the online context, but if we overuse them (which is very easy to do in short emails like this one!), we look insincere, i.e. the people to whom we’re writing are likely to think we’re being a little emotionally dishonest and also not being truly professional. Both of these impressions, of course, can hurt our credibility. Therefore, try not to rely so heavily on exclamation points to express emphasis or emotion. You can also use underlining ( “Ctrl + U”) or ALL CAPITAL LETTERS (but only occasionally or it will look like you’re shouting!) or bold — make sense?
Avoid using “emotional” language in professional email:
  • Yes, your email is very polite and appropriate (except I should let you know that in English your “very embarrassed” phrasing actually sounds a little too emotional for a professional email, though it might be okay in a personal email — Make sense?)
  • Apologizing once at the end of your email is enough  (so you don’t need both the words “apologize” and the word “sorry” here!) J — You don’t want to overdo it! J

Closings

Is the way I end my email appropriate in light of my relationship to my recipient? (i.e., Are my final sentence/paragraph and closing appropriate?)

  • X, this email’s only easy-to-correct error is in your closing, as mentioned above. Because I don’t think it’s fair for me to take points off in two places for just one error, I’ll give you full credit here J
Excellent closing
  • Excellent closing, given your purpose: “I really want to work in Central Bakery.”
  • Excellent! Perfect in its level of formality for someone you don’t yet know and perfect in its punctuation (FYI: Although it’s probably okay to capitalize “Regards,” I think NOT capitalizing it is preferred)
  • Great job using the politeness marker “would” to make X’s very inconvenient request (from the perspective of the professor) very polite! ☺
  • Great job closing the email with an apology for bothering the professor with this request ☺
Needs an appropriate closing
  • X, are you writing this email in order to 1) apologize or 2) simply inform Sung that you’ll miss tomorrow’s class? If you’re emailing Sung to apologize, it would be more polite in English if you ended your email with an explicit apology, e.g., “I’m very sorry to miss tomorrow’s workshop, but unfortunately, there was just no other time my participants could meet!” Make sense?
  • Email/Letter closings (like subject lines) generally end with “-ing” verbs, so you should actually write “Looking forward to your response” — Make sense?
  • Check the spelling of your email closing — is “Bests” the standard spelling for expressing your intended idea?
  • Although “Have a nice day” is frequently used for closings in spoken English, it’s uncommon in emails.  I would recommend ending emails like the one you wrote Dr. X with just something like “Thanks for your time!”
  • X, FYI: “Thanks again for your understanding” is more standard than “Thanks again for understanding me,” maybe because using “me” in this situation puts focus on myself, like I think my own situation and perspective is the only one that matters, that I don’t care about your situation and perspective — Make sense?
  • “My best wishes” is too personal. For a professional email, it would be better to use simply “Best wishes,”
  • X, I’m not familiar with “Thanking you,” as a professional letter/email closing. I’m wondering if maybe there’s a dialectal difference in how American English speakers and Indian English speakers show politeness when closing their emails. I think the only times I’ve encountered the closing “Thanking you,” has been in letters/emails from people trying to sell me something or convince me of something (i.e., spam emails), so to me as an American English speaker, the closing “Thanking you” has an almost-“begging” negative connotation (and doesn’t sound truly professional). However, I’m not sure my experience is representative of other American English speakers — you may want to ask your colleagues from various places whether they would feel comfortable using “Thanking you” to close their professional emails and if not, why not ☺
  • You need some kind of polite closing between your last question and your “Best regards” so X doesn’t feel like you’re demanding an answer rather than politely requesting it, e.g., “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I really do want to learn from your [innovative/creative/beautiful/?] work.”
  • Because this email is primarily an apology, a closing like “I’m so sorry!” would be more appropriate than the closing “Thanks for your consideration” — Make sense?
  • X, ending an apology email with “Please excuse me” is a little too abrupt. In order to thank the person to whom you’re apologizing for taking the time to read your email and for considering accepting your apology, it’s standard in the American context to say something like “Thanks for your consideration of my request” (if you’re not sure they’ll accept your request and/or in order to emphasize your respect for them) or merely “Thanks” (if you’re very sure they’ll accept your request and also sure they didn’t take whatever you needed to apologize for personally, so you don’t need to reassure them of your respect) — i.e. in this email, addressed to me, ending your email with just “Thanks” would have been fine.
    • X, I know there’s no way you could have predicted this, but English speakers usually use “Thanks for your attention” only when communicating with people of lower status. As a result, “Thanks for your attention” here sounds a little disrespectful — Make sense?
  • Please especially be careful of “Thanks a lot you” — it sounds rude, a lot like calling someone “Hey, you!
  • Because time is viewed as an extremely valuable resource in the U.S., your email would be more polite if it closed with an apology for needing to bother your email recipient with your request (i.e. for needing to use up some of her valuable time — Make sense?)
    • Although overall your revision is appropriate for a grad student who’s requesting a change in final exam time from his/her instructor, because this request substantially inconveniences “me” by asking that you be allowed to take your exam (probably still supervised by me in my office when perhaps I would ordinarily be somewhere else!), you’d want to close your email with an apology for the bother, e.g., “I’m so sorry!”
    • because X’s request that Dr. Y reschedule the meeting will be a big inconvenience for him, it would be better if she softened her request for rescheduling even further: “Is there any chance we could reschedule it for another day? I’m so sorry for the trouble!” — Make sense?
    • “X”— Because you are substantially inconveniencing Professor Frank by asking him/her to take the time to write an email just to you if he modifies the syllabus homework requirements, your email needs additional politeness language to acknowledge that fulfilling your request may cost him a substantial amount of his valuable time. Specifically, you probably need to add an expression of appreciation for his/her willingness to accept the inconvenience as well as the polite request marker “could,” e.g. “I would be grateful if you could let me know.” (FYI: I think the phrase “please let me know” is primarily used in situations where both you and your email recipient would benefit if she/he let you know something, not where only you would benefit.)
    • Because this email substantially inconveniences your instructor by asking (and you SHOULD be asking, not telling) him/her (actually, in this case, me) to allow you to take your exam at an alternate time, probably still supervised by me in my office when perhaps I would ordinarily be somewhere else, the email needs additional politeness language to acknowledge the significant degree of trouble your request may bring me (or whoever the instructor is). Specifically, you probably need to add an expression of appreciation for “my” potential willingness to accept the inconvenience as well as the polite request markers “would” and “could,” e.g. “I would be very grateful if you could let me take my final early, perhaps Monday or Tuesday.” (Also, it’s probably not a good idea to expect/ask your instructor to come in on the weekend, though many university instructors do.) Make sense? ☺
    • Because this email substantially inconveniences “me” by asking me to allow you to take your exam at an alternate time (probably still supervised by me in my office when perhaps I would ordinarily be somewhere else), the email needs additional politeness language to acknowledge the significant degree of trouble your request may bring me (or whoever the instructor is). Specifically, you probably need to add an additional expression of either tentiveness “Is there any chance I could have the final on Sunday?’ or appreciation for “my” potential willingness to accept the inconvenience, e.g. “I would be very grateful if you could let me take my final early, perhaps Monday or Tuesday. I’m so sorry for the trouble!”” In either case, you’ll want to include the polite request markers “would” and “could.”(And FYI: It’s probably not a good idea to expect/ask your instructor to come in on the weekend, though many university instructors do.)
    • I know we usually think of “please” as “softening” requests in English, but when you’re writing as someone of lower status to someone of higher status and asking them to do something that’s not part of their usual responsibilities, it’s unfortunately still too direct to be polite. Specifically, this email needs to include an expression of appreciation for the professor’s potential willingness to accept this inconvenience such as the polite request marker “could” or “would,” e.g., “I would be grateful if you could look at it briefly and let me know if I’m on the right track” — Make sense?
    • Because you’re writing this email to someone you don’t know well, you need to use something stronger than just “Thanks,” e.g., “Thanks very much!”
  • Your comma after “Thank you” makes it look like both “Thank you,” and “Yours sincerely,” are closings, but American English norms allow only one closing per email. An alternative way of expressing your meaning is to include “Thank you” as part of your last paragraph, e.g.,

    “If not, please let me know another time that works for you. Thank you very much.”

    or

    “If not, please let me know another time that works for you. Thank you!”

     

Personal Signature and Automatic Email Signature

(Do I use an appropriate automatic email signature?)

  • X, this email’s only easy-to-correct error is in your automatic email signature, as mentioned above. Because I don’t think it’s fair for me to take points off in two places for just one error, I’ll give you full credit here J
  • Your automatic email signature is okay (though you’ll see if you compare it to that of the top 20-30 emails in your email inbox, your wording/formatting for the parts I’ve highlighted don’t quite match U.S. norms).
Needs a personal signature in addition to your closing
  • X, check whether people in your field, when writing to someone they don’t know well and/or for a very formal purpose usually include a personal signature (i.e., “X,” in addition to the automatic email signature “X Smith,” usually with blank line or two between them. My guess is that usually both a personal signature and an automatic email signature are used in these contexts by people in your field.
  • X, check whether people in your field usually include a personal signature (i.e., just “X”) in addition to their automatic email signature in their (even casual) professional emails. My guess is that in your field — like in mine — an email writer beginning a new email conversation/thread generally includes his/her personal signature (containing only his/her given name) a couple of lines above his/her automatic email signature. (However, in follow-up replies to an email conversation, although your automatic email signature will stay the same — It’s included automatically, after all! — as long as your relationship with your email recipient is personal enough, your taking the time to include your personal signature can become optional.)
Needs a personal signature in addition to your automatic email signature
  • Finally, do people in your department call you by your full name “X Y” or do they just call you “X”? If the latter, although of course your automatic email signature should say “X Y,” your personal signature above it should just say “X” — Make sense?
  • X, you should include a personal signature (ordinarily including just your given name) a couple of lines above your automatic email signature rather than just your automatic email signature. This will communicate that you care about your relationship with your email recipient vs. caring only about communicating information. (It also lets email recipients who don’t already know you know immediately what you want them to call you.)
  • Mostly — check whether people in your field, when writing to someone they don’t know well and/or for a very formal purpose usually include a personal signature (i.e., “[given name]”) in addition to the automatic email signature (“[given name] [family name], . . . .,” usually with blank line or two between them. My guess is that usually both a personal signature and an automatic email signature are used in these contexts by people in your field. . . .
  • Please also note that your personal signature containing only your given name should be placed a couple of lines above your automatic email signature.
  • FYI: It’s unusual in English to include an initial like your “V.” in addition to one’s given name in one’s (non-automatic) email “signature”
Personal signature editing errors
  • Please don’t forget to capitalize your own name. Because English speakers capitalize any proper name (including the name of pet animals, etc.), not capitalizing your own name suggests you VERY much disrespect yourself as a human. It will be hard for readers to take you seriously as an expert/scholar in your field if it looks to them like you don’t take yourself seriously as an expert/scholar in your field — make sense? 
  • No period/full stop is needed after your name in your personal signature (because your personal signature isn’t a complete sentence ☺)
About “P.S.”
  • I should let you know that the standard location of any “P.S.” postscripts in English is after your personal signature and before your automatic email signature. You can see a few examples in my “Example email to a professor OUTSIDE my department — A request to JOIN MY COMMITTEE” and my “Email to a professor who’s allowing me to use his lab resources for my dissertation study — An APOLOGY
  • It would be good if your last sentence were spaced more closely to your automatic email signature, so that it’s immediately clear that the two parts of your email are connected.
Punctuating closings

Automatic email signatures:

Reply regarding “pre-check” of automatic email signature before the “Professional Email Portfolio” assignment is due
  • Your automatic email signature is almost perfect, but it would be great if you have time if we could talk about a few things in it after class on Friday
Great automatic email signature
  • Your automatic email signature is one of the best I’ve seen while grading this assignment — great job!
Needs an automatic email signature (not just a personal signature)
  • X, you’ll see if you check half a dozen expert English speakers’ automatic email signatures that they always include the writer’s full name (given/first name + family/last name). Personal signatures (including just one’s given name), on the other hand, while they are basically always included in the first email of a particular professional email conversation may or may not be included in “email conversation” replies. That is, the first time you email someone about a topic, your email should include both your given name in your personal signature and your full name in your automatic email signature (including your given/first name and family/last name) a few lines below. In your follow-up replies to an email conversation, however, although your automatic email signature will stay the same (It’s included automatically, after all!), as long as your relationship with your email recipient is personal enough, your taking the time to include your personal signature is optional.
  • Did this email include an automatic email signature? (Failure to use your email account’s automatic email signature capabilities is likely to negatively affect others’ view of how competent you are as a graduate student and professional; therefore, if you can’t figure out how to set up your automatic email signature on CyMail, please let me know, so I can help you!) A good sample automatic email signature should look something like the following:

Jane Doe
M.S. student
Complex Adaptive Systems Laboratory (CASL)
Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Iowa State University
xy@iastate.edu

(Obviously, you should insert your actual status, lab [if you’re part of one], major, and email address.  In addition, your personal signature containing only your given name should be placed a couple of lines above your automatic email signature.)

Personal emails don’t require an automatic email signature, but professional emails do
  • In an informal email like this one to a peer with whom you have a personal (rather than merely professional) relationship, an automatic email signature is not required. However, because I notice that even in the professional emails you submitted you didn’t include an automatic email signature, I think I should let you know that if you fail to use your email account’s automatic email signature capabilities in professional emails, it’s likely to negatively affect others’ view of how competent you are as a graduate student and professional. (Therefore, if you can’t figure out how to set up your automatic email signature on CyMail, please let me know, so I can help you!) In the U.S. context, professional automatic email signatures tend to be ordered as follows:

Jane Doe
M.S. Student
Complex Adaptive Systems Statistics Laboratory (CASSL)
Statistics
Iowa State University
xy@iastate.edu

(Obviously, you should insert your actual status, lab [if you’re part of one], major, and email address. In addition, your personal signature containing only your given name should be placed a couple of lines above your automatic email signature.)

Effective structuring your automatic email signature
  • Finally, in English, automatic email signatures tend to look something like the following. (While you don’t have to follow the “boring” styling below — I really like your automatic email signature’s use of “|” ☺— I do think your automatic email address would better fit the U.S. context if it followed standard U.S. address ordering from smallest and most specific unit up to the largest and most general unit — Make sense?):
  • Finally, try to figure out a way you can rearrange your automatic email signature so that it follows both a logical order and standard U.S. address ordering from smallest and most specific unit up to the largest and most general unit. One way you could do this is by breaking up your Ph.D. student and TA roles into two separate sections of your automatic email address, as I’ve done in my automatic email signature, with your office address included as part of the TA section. (I’m assuming you’ve included your office address primarily for your students — since you didn’t include the Ames zip code and therefore the address information you’ve provided couldn’t be used by someone wanting to mail you something!)
  • X, although your automatic email signature is okay, I think it would be better if it emphasized your name more, by having your name alone on its own line. See below for what I think is the best style of automatic email signature for a graduate student working as a research assistant:
  • X, identifying yourself in an automatic email signature as a “Master’s student in Information Systems” is nonstandard because the preference in automatic email signatures is for indicating specific degrees, e.g. M.I.S., M.S., M.E., etc. Therefore, your automatic email signature should probably be something like the following, “M.S. student in Information Systems”)
  • I’m not sure whether other native English speakers would agree with me, but I personally think using the “Department of X” vs. “X Department” phrasing sounds more formal and professional and therefore is probably better for an automatic email signature, since you will use that signature for all your emails, including highly formal ones — Make sense?
Ensuring your automatic email signature includes all important information
  • FYI: When your automatic email signature includes your job title (“electrical engineer”), it should also include the name of your company (if you have one)
    • X, you were an assistant professor in which department/major/program of Y Institute of Industrial Technology?
  • X, aren’t you also a graduate student? Your automatic email signature should also indicate this student role. FYI: If you’ve already been officially admitted to a degree program, you’ll want to identify yourself as being a part of that program (e.g., as being an “M.S. Student in Seed Technology & Business Management”) rather than merely as being a “Graduate Student.” This is because in English people usually label themselves as “graduate students” in formal contexts (such as automatic email signatures) only if they haven’t yet managed to qualify for entry into a degree program. Thus, if you label yourself in this way, people will assume you’re less qualified than you probably really are! — Make sense?
  • X, are you working as an RA or TA? If yes, don’t you want to include your work role (and not just your student role) in your automatic email signature?
    • X, if you are working as a TA (and an RA?), don’t you want to include your work role(s) and not just your student role in your automatic email signature?
  • Also, where do you study? (Surely you’re not getting your master’s degree from nowhere ☺)
  • Remember that your automatic email signature will be added to any email you send, inside or outside your department, and that your out-of-department (and out-of-your-field) recipients won’t know what CCEE means unless you tell them.
    • X, remember that your automatic email signature will be added to any email you send, inside or outside your department, and that your out-of-department (and out-of-your-field) recipients are unlikely know what “TA/RA” and “332L” mean. Therefore, your automatic email signature should specify their meaning more clearly — Make sense?
  • FYI: If you’ve already been officially admitted to a degree program, it’s much better to identify yourself as being a part of that program (e.g., as being an “M.S. Student in Seed Technology & Business Management”) than merely as being a “Graduate Student.” This is because in English people usually label themselves as “graduate students” in formal contexts (such as automatic email signatures) only if they haven’t yet managed to qualify for entry into a degree program. Thus, if you label yourself in this way, people will assume you’re less qualified than you probably really are! — Make sense?
    • Yes, but as soon as you have an official status as either a Ph.D., M.S., or M.E. student, please remember to change your automatic email signature to match your specific status. Using “Graduate student” in your automatic email signature is nonstandard because the preference is for more informative, more specific automatic email signatures — Make sense? In fact, if in your field your graduate student status actually isn’t clear till after you’ve taken your qualifying exams (Will you graduate with a master’s or a Ph.D.?), it may be good to pay attention to what your peers use and/or ask senior students who have good automatic email signatures what they’d advise for your situation.
    • (And FYI: just referring to yourself as a “Graduate” isn’t clear. Graduate from what? Iowa State’s baccalaureate Computer Science program? Its master’s program? Its Ph.D. program? Some other program?)
  • Your automatic email signature should actually say “Ph.D. student,” not Ph.D. (If it says just “Ph.D.,” it will sound like you already have your Ph.D. and to classmates and others who know you actually haven’t received your Ph.D. yet, such an automatic email signature may suggest you are intentionally inflating your qualifications, i.e that you’re proud and maybe a liar. This is a misunderstanding I’m sure you want to avoid!)
  • I agree that shortening your automatic email signature is probably a good idea. While what you’re proposing is okay, I personally would probably alter it as follows: I think the name of your university is important enough that it deserves its own line (which, unfortunately, forces the name of your department onto its own line also — but I can’t think of a way to avoid that ☹). I agree with several online commentators (e.g., here and here)  that although people do sometimes include their email address in their automatic email signatures, it’s redundant and should be avoided — but this is something a lot of people disagree on, so I’ll be satisfied with the professionalism of your automatic email signature whatever you decide — Hope this helps! ☺
Punctuating automatic email signatures
  • Please check in COCA and/or compare your automatic email signature to those of U.S. students/faculty in your field — you really don’t want errors in your automatic email signature! (Or every email you send will suggest to readers that your English proficiency is poor — Make sense?)
    • Please check the one punctuation and one capitalization error in your automatic email signature. . . . you really don’t want errors in your automatic email signature (Or every email you send will suggest to readers that your English proficiency is poor — Make sense?)
  • X, is it standard in English to include a comma after each line of your automatic email signature?
  • X, does any punctuation follow the name of the state in U.S. mailing addresses?
  • X, you’ll see if you check half a dozen expert English speakers’ automatic email signatures in your email inbox that including a comma after one’s automatic email signature name is highly unusual. (In fact, it will almost certainly be viewed as an error — which, because people will see your automatic email signature every time you send an email, is probably not what you want! So please update your automatic email signature ASAP.)
Styling automatic email signatures
  • X, not capitalizing all important words included in the formal name for your laboratory makes it sound like you don’t respect it (like you don’t think it’s a real lab that’s making a real contribution in the world!) Definitely, you’ll want to fix this in your real automatic email signature ASAP. . . .
  • Based on your capitalization of the other lines in your automatic email signature, you should also capitalize each word in your  “Bovine tuberculosis Research group” line.
    • Also, you may want to make your capitalization consistent by capitalizing ALL important words in your automatic email signature, not just some — Make sense?
  • X, preceding your name and title with two spaces is unusual and reduces the professionality of your email. Therefore, in the future, try to make sure your name and title are located as far left in your email as possible, i.e. like your “Department of Statistics, Iowa State University.” (It would also be more standard/more professional-looking if you put “Department of Statistics” on one line and “Iowa State University” on the next line”)
  • To ensure it “matches” the formatting of the rest of your automatic email signature, you may also want to capitalize “student” — but this is optional and depends on your personal sense of what looks most professional/best (ideally based on professional-looking automatic email signatures of others you respect in your department!)
  • X, you’ll see if you check half a dozen expert English speakers’ automatic email signatures in your email inbox that breaking the name of your department in half so that the first half appears on one line and the second half appears on another line (perhaps in order to ensure their line width is comparable to the rest of your automatic email signature lines?) is highly unusual. (In fact, it will almost certainly be viewed as an error — which, because people will see your automatic email signature every time you send an email, is probably not what you want! Although I think I understand why you did this, because outside readers will almost certainly view this as an error, please do update/correct your automatic email signature regarding this ASAP.)
  • X, although your automatic email signature looks good in terms of grammar and structure, please compare it to that of other professionals in your field regarding its current usage of 2 different font sizes.
  • One other thing — Although your automatic email signature looks good in terms of grammar and structure, please compare it to that of other professionals in your field regarding its current usage of 3 different font types. (I think most automatic email signatures in academia tend to use no more than 2 different fonts  — although the automatic email signatures of people working in industry may be more “interesting,” particularly if they’re actually an image containing the company’s logo as well as the email writer’s automatic email signature details.)
  • X, your automatic email signature looks good in terms of grammar and structure, but please compare it to that of other professionals in your field in terms of including 3 different font types/2 different colors. (I think most automatic emails signatures in academia tend to use no more than 2 different font sizes and are usually also monochromatic — although the automatic email signatures of people working in industry are often more “interesting,” particularly if they’re actually an image containing the company’s logo as well as the email writer’s automatic email signature details.
    • This is much less important, but please compare your automatic email signature to that of other professionals in your field in terms of its including multiple font types/colors. At the very least, you probably need to clearly have a reason for coloring different parts of your automatic email signature differently, e.g., your “Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering” color differentiation makes perfect sense ☺, since it helps explain the common short form for your department, “CCEE”
    • X, gray is a “diluted” (or “weak”) form of black, so using gray for your automatic email signature while the rest of your email is in black font visually “weakens” your automatic email signature, suggesting you lack confidence in your own abilities. Using a super-small font for your automatic email signature (which I have to look closely at to be able to read) compared to the default font you use elsewhere in your email suggests the same thing. (This can have similar effects as inadequate eye contact and/or inappropriately quiet presentation volume often has on one’s presentation success, as I might have mentioned in your 3MT feedback: “Teachers who make inadequate eye contact in the U.S. often experience student behavior problems because American students tend to believe that teachers who appear not to be confident do so because they’re not competent, i.e. they often think “If she herself doesn’t believe she’s qualified to teach, why should I think so!?! Such students may also wonder “Is she not confident because she doesn’t know her field or because she doesn’t know how to teach? — and because they don’t know the answer to that question, they tend not to trust even the content you’re teaching!”)
    • Using a super-small font for your automatic email signature (which I have to look closely at to be able to read) compared to the default font you use elsewhere in your email can visually “weaken” your automatic email signature, suggesting you lack confidence in your own abilities. (This can have similar effects as inadequate eye contact and/or inappropriately quiet presentation volume often has on one’s presentation success, as I might have mentioned in your 3MT feedback: “Teachers who make inadequate eye contact in the U.S. often experience student behavior problems because American students tend to believe that teachers who appear not to be confident do so because they’re not competent, i.e. they often think “If she herself doesn’t believe she’s qualified to teach, why should I think so!?! Such students may also wonder “Is she not confident because she doesn’t know her field or because she doesn’t know how to teach? — and because they don’t know the answer to that question, they tend not to trust even the content you’re teaching!”)
  • X, if you pay attention to other people’s automatic email signatures, you’ll see that vertical bars are generally used only between elements, not at the ends of email signature lines
  • Automatic email signature editing errors:
  • One other thing — don’t forget to capitalize your last name in your automatic email signature. Failing to capitalize your name correctly makes it look like you don’t respect yourself as a person (which can easily influence others to respect you less also — definitely NOT something you want!
Avoid including abbreviations in subject lines:
  • X, do you have a reason for preferring to use the abbreviation of “Dept.” and “Environ.” rather than their complete spellings? (In a research article, we always define our abbreviations before using them in the rest of our paper, right? Therefore, do you think it’s a good idea to include abbreviations in your automatic email address when you know that sometimes (maybe often!) you will email people outside of Iowa State University who therefore won’t necessarily know the name of your program, e.g., whether it is “Environment Engineering” or “Environmental Engineering”?)
Subject line hyperlink problems:
  • X, why is only part of your telephone number linked?

English email politeness often requires using “politeness marker” vocabulary:

Great job using politeness markers:
  • Great job using the polite phrasing “Could I get some advice from you to improve my paper?” — it’s perfect for this situation ☺
  • Great job using the politeness marker “would” to make X’s very inconvenient request (from the perspective of the professor) very polite! ☺
Needs “would”:
  • “I think it‘s really helpful if we can review the class PowerPoint before the assignment” should be “I think it will be really helpful if we can review the class PowerPoint before the assignment” or “I think it would be really helpful if we can review the class PowerPoint before the assignment.” The present tense “it’s” is incorrect because at present, you can’t review the class PowerPoint because Dr. X hasn’t posted it yet! You will only be able to review it if he posts it in the future. (Therefore, you need to use either future tense “will” or the polite request marker “would.”)
  • “That will be really helpful” would be more polite if it used the polite request marker “would,” i.e. “That would be really helpful.”
  • X, I think if you checked COCA, you would see that when an “if” clause contains the politeness marker “could,” the main clause of the sentence will generally contain “would,” not “will”
Needs “could”:
  • Your email is very clear, except can you ask someone to be able to do something? (“Please be able to do this!” — English speakers don’t usually think of ability as something a person can control, so it sounds a little weird to ask them to control it. Did you mean to use the English politeness marker “could” instead? Also, do you mean really mean “and” where I’ve highlighted “or” above
  • X, I think if you checked COCA, you would see that when an “if” clause contains the politeness marker “could,” the main clause of the sentence will generally contain “would,” not “will”
  • Because you are substantially inconveniencing Professor Frank by asking him/her to take the time to write an email just to you if he modifies the syllabus homework requirements, your email needs additional politeness language to acknowledge the significant degree of trouble your request may bring him. Specifically, you probably need to add an expression of appreciation for his/her willingness to accept the inconvenience as well as the polite request marker “could,” e.g. “I would be grateful if you could let me know.” (FYI: I think the phrase “please let me know” is primarily used in situations where both you and your email recipient would benefit if she/he let you know something, not where only you would benefit.)
  • Compare in COCA the difference between “if I have the chance to” and “if I could have the chance to” — Why might “if I could have the chance to” be more appropriate for this email?
“Should” is not generally used to express polite tentativeness:
  • is related” or “should be related” — Don’t you know that your proposed research topic is related to Dr. X’s previous research? You should, because it’s not polite to waste Dr. X’s time if you’re not sure he’s a good match for your proposed research topic! (My guess, though, is that you made this mistake not because you’re uncertain about whether or not your proposed research topic is related to Dr. X’s previous research, but because you want to express polite tentativeness. However, English speakers rarely (never?) use “should” to express polite tentativeness (though we do very commonly use “could” and “would” for this purpose!). (However, in this situation, I don’t think you want to express polite tentativeness at all, because Dr. X could understand it to mean you haven’t in fact  “done your homework” on him and the program before asking him to join your POS committee, so maybe he’s not actually a good match for your topic after all!
Needs non-modal-verb “politeness markers”:
  • You can make your direct request polite by adding a “politeness marker” so that your request is phrased something like “I was wondering if you’d be willing to join my POS committee” or “I was wondering if you’d be willing to be one of my POS committee members.”
  • Actually, you are right that English speakers (at least in the U.S. Midwest!) can also be indirect when saying they can’t come to something, but we express our indirectness differently. . . .we tend to use an introductory phrase such as “I’m afraid I won’t be able to. . .” to show our politeness vs. using verbs like “might not.” However, I did in fact understand what you meant and it’s totally okay if you miss class today because you’re not feeling well. Maybe we can share this situation in class after you feel well enough to return to class ☺
  • Most Americans would consider being so direct when emailing a request to someone you don’t know well as being rude. To avoid this, your request needs to include “politeness markers” such as “I hope you’ve had the chance to look at my research proposal (although I know you’re super-busy, so maybe you haven’t quite had time yet!). I’m wondering whether it would it be possible for us to meet some time after this Friday to talk about it.  If so, can you let me know what time is convenient for you?”
  • FYI: In English it’s considered a little too bold to say, “Your research group is the right laboratory in which to display my ability and accumulate knowledge.” To show the modesty appropriate to a student asking for a professor to consider how his/her abilities and background would match his lab’s needs, English speakers tend to add something like the politeness marker, “I think” to communicate polite tentativeness—i.e. “I think your research group is the right laboratory in which to display my ability and accumulate knowledge.”
  • Because you are substantially inconveniencing Professor Frank by asking him/her to take the time to write an email just to you if he modifies the syllabus homework requirements, your email needs additional politeness language to acknowledge the significant degree of trouble your request may bring him. Specifically, you probably need to add an expression of appreciation for his/her willingness to accept the inconvenience as well as the polite request marker “could,” e.g. “I would be grateful if you could let me know.” (FYI: I think the phrase “please let me know” is primarily used in situations where both you and your email recipient would benefit if she/he let you know something, not where only you would benefit.)

Easy-to-correct spelling/capitalization/punctuation errors in your email are likely to have a strong negative impact on recipients’ impression of you ☹:

  • You are very polite throughout your entire email—Great job! (except that as mentioned above, some email recipients may interpret the fact that your email contains many spelling errors as a sign you didn’t respect them enough to take the time to check your email before sending it.)

 

When emailing someone of similar status whom you already know *

Strengths: *

  • X

Weaknesses: *

  • “Thanks, man” is extremely informal, so you actually shouldn’t use it in professional communication of any kind, even if the person with whom you’re communicating is actually your friend also outside of work — Make sense?

When emailing someone of similar status whom you don’t know (or don’t know well) *

Strengths: *

  • X

Weaknesses: *

  • X

When emailing someone of higher status whom you already know *

Strengths: *

  • X

Weaknesses: *

  • Using imperatives: Your sentence beginning with “Suggest” is grammatically a command, which is inappropriate because you are of lower status than Dr. X and because you are asking him for a favor. To make it more polite, you need to add a “Please” to the beginning of your sentence—Make sense?
  • “May” can indicate “I give permission”:
    • Also, “may” has multiple meanings in English, so it can be risky to use when asking for someone’s help, especially in writing when tone of voice can’t help you make your meaning and politeness clear, i.e. your sentence “The data may include” could be interpreted as “I give you permission to include” (suggesting you’re a higher-status person talking to a lower-status person!). Although I’m certain Dr. X easily figured out you did not mean that, it can sometimes be difficult for people to escape all the effects of less-than-positive first impressions—therefore, English speakers tend to express your meaning with something like “It would be great if the data could include. . . .”
    • “We may discuss the matter after you look into it and then I will write the final conclusion.”—”May” in English can refer both to permission (i.e. “I give us permission to discuss the matter after you look into it”) and possibility (i.e. “Perhaps we can discuss the matter after you look into it). In your context, where you’re asking your professor for help, using the permission meaning would, of course, be rude. That is, although the possibility meaning is okay and therefore your professor will probably figure out that’s the meaning you want to express, the grammar of your sentence is unclear. Therefore, your professor’s initial emotional response to your sentence (i.e. before he/she realizes what meaning you were really trying to express) is likely to be negative. As a result, it would be better if your phrasing were clearly more politely tentative, i.e. “Perhaps we can discuss the matter after you look into it, and then I can write the final conclusion.” Make sense?
  • “If X, then Y” can imply you view yourself as being of higher status: Your “if there is anything I need to know” suggests that you don’t actually expect to miss “anything you’ll need to know” when you miss the meeting, though you’re willing for your professor to contact you in the unlikely event that you’re mistaken and this time the meeting does cover something important!) Although I’m quite sure you intend your closing paragraph to communicate respect, I’m afraid it could suggest to your professor that you think he/she requires unnecessary meetings, and he of course could easily interpret this as disrespect. Therefore, you may want to say instead, “I plan to ask [your labmate’s name] to catch me up on what I missed, but if you’d prefer, I can also meet with you at your convenience to get updated. I’m so sorry to miss this week’s meeting!)

When emailing someone of higher status whom you don’t know (or don’t know well) *

Strengths: *

  • X

Weaknesses: *

 

When writing a self-introduction *

General comments:
*

  • I very much enjoy your sense of humor ☺
  • Thanks so much for your detailed response to my questions (and also for the detailed, and very interesting, self-introduction you wrote for your Moodle profile)! I’ve had a couple of good friends who are Iranian, so I’m glad to get to meet another Iranian through our class ☺
  • I very much enjoyed your story from your Moodle profile of how whenever you told your friends back home you were living in “Manhattan,” they immediately thought of Manhattan, New York, and it took you a little while to get them to realize you were actually very, very far from New York.
  • It’s too bad your initial experience of Ames was in winter and so not so good, but I’m glad you’ve gotten adjusted and made friends now!

General comments: “What do you like to do for fun?” *

  • Thanks for your self-introduction. I enjoyed reading it! I also enjoy walking with my friends. Have you ever walked at Ada Hayden, the park/lake on the north side of Ames? It’s a very nice place to walk! (and conveniently, it’s only about 10 minutes from my house) Hopefully, it’s not too far from yours, too. . . .anyway, if you get the chance and especially if you live nearby, you should definitely check it out!
  • Great idea about X checking out if she’s interested whether Iowa State has a bicycling club. I just Googled “Iowa State university bicycle club” and found the Facebook page of the “Iowa State University Cycling Club”: https://www.facebook.com/ISUCycling. I had no idea Iowa State has a cycling club! Good thinking. . . .I never would have thought of recommending that ☺
  • I don’t mind trying to give you non-academic book recommendations, but I’m afraid that’s hard to do without knowing what your specific reading interests are. . . . I can tell you that if I had a formal “Top 10 Favorite Books” list (though I actually don’t, since I’ve never bothered to make one!), our textbook Foreign to Familiar would definitely be on it ☺ . If you haven’t already figured this out, it’s not a very academic book!

General comments: “Describe your current and future writing needs” (communicating technical concepts to a lay audience) *

  • I can tell from your Moodle profile description of your BSc and MSc majors that you’re going to do a great job on our 3MT presentation assignment. You already know how to explain your field in language that’s easy for non-experts to understand. Great job!

General comments: Useful resources for studying English *

  • I have to admit that as a teacher, I would love it if all my sports-loving students over my years of teaching had read and applied this quote from your email: “If you practice writing as much as you play football, i believe you will be very successful in your research field.” ☺   As a general rule, we humans become good at what we practice, don’t we?
  • I’m sooooooooooo glad you are part of an international student ministry in a church and have therefore successfully made friends from the U.S. and elsewhere! I think Chinese students in the U.S. in particular (because there are so many Chinese in Ames) often find it very difficult to break out of the “Chinese bubble,” even all the way to graduation, so I’m very glad to hear that you’ve successfully done this!

General comments (reply templates): *

Just a few things:

Hope you find these comments helpful!

One other thing I’ve worked on today is checking students’ revision of the email I’ve given feedback on/graded from everyone’s Professional Email Portfolio assignments. However, in your case I see I never received your original Professional Email Portfolio assignment, so I haven’t been able to give feedback on/grade it (so you haven’t been able to revise it).

Can you let me know whether the fact that you haven’t yet applied my feedback, revising your email that I originally graded as required, mean you’re okay having your original Professional Email Portfolio grade of 82% (B-) be your final grade for this assignment? Remember, according to our syllabus, your Professional Email Portfolio assignment is worth 10% of your final grade for our course. (I’d really prefer to give you a higher grade, ideally 100% or something very close!). Please let me know whether you plan to revise this email (ideally by this weekend at the latest) or whether you’d prefer I just give you as your Professional Email Portfolio’s final grade your current grade of 82% (B-). Thanks!
Though I’m very glad you ultimately posted your third email minimally required by our syllabus‘ Professional Email Portfolio assignment (so I no longer have to give you a final Professional Email Portfolio grade of just 25% ), does the fact that you haven’t yet applied my feedback, revising your email that I originally graded (as required by the assignment linked below), mean you’re okay having your original Professional Email Portfolio grade of 58% be your final grade for this assignment? That’s not even a passing grade, much less a good grade! — and remember, according to our syllabus, your Professional Email Portfolio assignment is worth 10% of your final grade for our course!!!
I’d really prefer to give you a higher grade (ideally 100% or something very close!). Please let me know whether you plan to revise this email (ideally by this weekend at the latest) or whether you’d prefer I just give you your Professional Email Portfolio’s current grade of 58%. Thanks!

 

 

General comments probably useful only to me (Pronouncing student names): *

  • Thanks so much for providing pronunciation information for your name. Two more pronunciation questions since I really want to pronounce your name correctly in my brain even if I never get the chance to meet you face-to-face. . . .Is the first syllable of your name pronounced like X or in some other way. Also, which syllable should be stressed? (If Telegu has word stress!)
  • Okay, I think I’ve got it. However, may I verify my understanding? Should I stress your name “X” then? Or, are you saying that in Telegu, the pronunciation of “P” sounds halfway between English “p” and “b.” Sorry to keep asking you so many questions! Hopefully, this will be my last one!
  • Let me doublecheck one thing. . . .Your family name is “Wang,” right? And your given name is “X.” So in Chinese order, people call you WANG X, right? I’m curious because if they’re okay with it, I like to call my Chinese students by their real Chinese name 🙂
  • Sorry you found X’s way of writing his name confusing. It’s my fault. Because I know some Chinese, I asked the Chinese students in our class to let me know the tone of each syllable in their names, so I can pronounce their names truly correctly. However, I’m sure it’s confusing to everyone else. Sorry!

General comments probably useful only to me (repeating assignment guidelines): *

  • Thanks for responding so completely to my questions! Now I feel like I know you a lot better and also the kind of writing you need to do in English.  Let me just verify one thing. . . .do you or will you ever need to write a thesis or journal article in your field? I just want to know whether we’re likely to need to adjust some of the later assignments this semester so they provide real benefit to you. . . . ☺

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