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Reading between the lines when it comes to emails…

Does it happen to you too when you write or receive a business email? You know you have to be professional and polite, but sometimes that is not what actually happens…

The English way of writing can make most things sound amazing, but is what you are reading or writing actually what it means? Reading between the lines when it come to emails can be a minefield or art form, it just depends how you interpret it! It’s like receiving a beautifully wrapped present that after unwrapping takes the smile of your face.

Have a look at some examples:

“Not sure if my last email was received…”    How long do you think you can ignore this?

“Correct me if I’m wrong…”  I know I’m not wrong and there is no use in trying to challenge my opinion.

“Friendly reminder…”   It’s nowhere near friendly. This had to be done yesterday!

“To put it more simply…”  Are you seriously stupid?

“According to my records…”  I am keeping track of all the facts, don’t even try to screw me over.

As you no doubt are aware…” We both know you are aware of it, stop pretending to be an idiot.

“Per my last email…”  Can’t you read? I already told you this.

“Great!”  It’s far from great but there’s nothing I can do about it.

Obviously, sometimes it can just mean what it says – knowing the difference can be a fine line.

So, spare a thought/be careful with non-native English speakers who don’t understand the hidden message. They might just read exactly what you wrote, i.e. “Great”! Don’t be surprised in that case if they repeat the same thing over and over again…

For more fun and more examples:


For all those hard-working non-native English speakers: get in contact with us if you want to learn how to read between the lines when it comes to emails or the English language in general.

Melodie and I can’t wait to help you understand those nuances of the English language.


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Posted by Nicky Cooper

Developing your confidence and effective communication in the English language is not just my aim - it is my passion. There is a lot more to language than grammar and vocabulary...

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