Writing Clinic #1: The Informal Email
Welcome to the first edition of the Writing Clinic. The piece edited today is an informal email that one of our readers crafted to salute friends and colleagues who helped him land a scholarship. If you want to submit your piece you can email it to email@example.com.
Hereby I would like to express my gratitude for all your support during my progress of ASEA-UNINET scholarship selection. It has been a great help for me to pass the selection with support from you.
Mas Ryan, for detailed information, all about what and where to send around application process. At the very early step, with only two days before the deadline, ‘googling’ is not quite helpful. Even asking to Univ. secretariate is also give me almost nothing. Many-many thanks for your assistance along the selection process.
Rendy, for questions during our ‘interview warming-up’ exercise session. Those are very sharp, and also unpredictable -at least for me-. Surely your questions help me a lot in preparing ‘what to say’ answering interview questions. Many great thanks for your support..
David, for helping me with german. That has been bring me such self-confident. Good enough to keep me not being nervous during interview. Also all the ‘leave during office hour’ permits, you are such a very kind boss for us 😀 Thank you x1000
Sari, your email forward in that last day of submission actually did prevent me from sending my scholarship application to Bandung! Which then I brought it by myself to DIKTI building which is only three blocks away from my office. That was a lot of help for me .. Thousand Thanks for your help..
Nasri, for your patient and quick-response answering all my question via IM. Those information around telephone number, email address, etc, really saves me from going to Depok for asking information about this scholarship. Many-many thanks for your help..
At this moment, I have already receive an email letter from Dikti staff, not anymore two line email from my acquaintance in ITB.. Receiving that long-awaited email was after sending her an email, and also making a phone call to her, which then I found out that she misspelled my email address to firstname.lastname@example.org ..
There are still thousand steps to go.. wishing you all the best things in your life. And also success for your career.
Warmly Regards and Many Great Thanks,
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to each of you for the support you provided during the ASEA-UNINET scholarship selection process. Without your support, I may not have passed the selection process.
Thank you for giving me detailed information about what to send during the application process. I was in a true dilemma just two days before the submission deadline. Using Google to scramble to find information with the deadline lurking is absolutely useless. Even asking the university’s secretary for help proved to be a waste of time. Thanks to you I was able to get through the submission process with all the items I needed.
Thank you for the questions during our ‘interview warm-up’ exercise session. Your questions were sharp, unpredictable, and perfect in preparing me. This helped me learn the art of impromptu speaking. Many thanks for your support.
Thank you for helping me with my German. Your help has allowed me to be more confident in interview sessions. Also, you are an extremely kind boss for bestowing upon me the many ‘leave during office hour’ permits. Thank you (times one thousand!).
Your email forward to me on the last day of the submission deadline prevented me from sending my scholarship application to Bandung! Instead, I walked the application to the DIKTI building, which is just three blocks away from my office. Thanks!
I’m grateful for your patient and quick responses in answering my questions via instant messenger. You saved me the hassle of going to Depok to inquire about this scholarship. Many thanks for your help.
I have already received an email letter from DIKTI staff. There are still many more steps to undertake before I’m awarded the scholarship.
First of all unnecessary words were eliminated. For example, “Hereby I would like to express” became “I would like to express.”
Second, some sentences were re-structured to have a clearer meaning. For example, “It has been a great help for me to pass the selection with support from you” became “Without your support, I may not have passed the selection process.”
Third, some sentences were completed, because they didn’t make sense as they were written before. For example, “Mas Ryan, for detailed information, all about what and where to send around application process” became “Mas Ryan: Thank you for giving me detailed information about what to send during the application process.”
Fourth, grammar and punctuation mistakes were corrected throughout the piece.
Finally, the overall format of the email was changed to highlight the person that was being addressed on each paragraph.
The Writing Clinic column is a collaboration between our blog and Gramlee.com, a company that provides grammar checks, proofreading and copy editing services.
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9 Responses to “Writing Clinic #1: The Informal Email”
You changed “It has been a great help for me to pass the selection with support from you” into “Without your support, I may not have passed the selection process.”
Wouldn’t it be even better to say “Without your support, I might not have passed…”?
Paul K. Bisson
This clinic needs some imagination, stat!
I think this demonstrates an easy trap for proofreaders and reviewers: focusing on the detail, rather than taking a step back and considering the big picture.
The revised version is certainly more grammatical and formal, but I think the best advice would be to write five separate emails, rather than this weird hybrid of personal and general.
The original Email has the nationality (southeast asian/Indonesian?) written all over it. The corrected version has turned it international.
I agree with Cecily that five separate emails would be a better choice. Written all together this way sounds more like the script of a speech rather than notes of thanks.
Ol’ Eric Blair had it down, beotches!
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
Translation: I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Orwell. “Politics and the English Language”.
Notice the .ru. They know, trust me, they know!
The original version posed quite a challenge. Well done.
Though it can benefit from additional tightening (e.g., “responses in answering my questions” > “answers to my questions” – “still many more steps” > “still many steps”), the edited version is more economical.
Having worked on many documents from non-native English speakers, I know how difficult it can be to figure out what the writer is trying to communicate. For the most part, you have done an impressive job with this. (You might question whether “learn the art of impromptu speaking” means the same thing as “preparing ‘what to say’ answering interview questions.”)
The single e-mail structure works for me. If we assume that the colleagues know each other, this is a nice way to publicly acknowledge their support. Let’s say that I am one of the people on the list and I receive this e-mail. I will learn how others helped this person, raising my esteem for them. This e-mail is akin to thanking supporters during an awards speech rather than thanking them individually in private. It provides a public expression of gratitude.
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