Monthly Archives: November 2013

How Much Energy Do You Have?

Are you familiar with the word ENERVATE? Do you think it’s equivalent to ENERGIZE? It’s not, but that ENER—fools a lot of people. In fact, ENERVATE means to drain the energy from something or someone.

These days many good shows are on television on Sunday night, and although we record them, my husband and I tend to park ourselves in front of the set and watch as many as we can stay awake for. When we finally give up, we are both completely enervated, feeling as if we will never be able to move again.

If you are not sure of the meaning of word, rather than making an awkward mistake, take a second to use your dictionary. All it takes is one click, hardly an enervating task.

Seal of the United States Department of Energy.

Seal of the United States Department of Energy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Beginning an Email

Johannes Vermeer - A Lady Writing a Letter - W...

Johannes Vermeer – A Lady Writing a Letter – WGA24650 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently wrote about closing emails and noted that “Yours truly” is stilted and somewhat archaic. When you think about what those words mean, you see how silly they are when taken literally. (However, I guess that is a better closing than when people regularly closed their letters with “Your Obedient Servant.”)

Similarly, when we begin an email with the salutation “Dear,” perhaps we should think about how many of the recipients of our emails are truly “dear” to us. When writing casually, starting with “Hello,” “Good morning” or “Hi” can all be acceptable, given your relationship with the person or people you’re writing to. In a more formal situation or when writing to someone in a higher position, you can begin your email like this:

To Ms. Jane Doe:  or   To the Director of Human Relations (if you cannot discover that person’s name):   Then begin your message.

When writing more formally, use a colon after the greeting. After a more casual greeting, a comma is fine.

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

How to Close an Email

People sometimes ask me about closing a business email: how do you sign off?

The main consideration is the relationship you have with the person to whom you are writing. If you are on a first-name basis, then think about what you’d say in person. You might be very casual. Some of these might fit your style:




Have a good one

If you are writing to someone you don’t know well or who is in a position above yours, you should tend toward more traditional closings:

Best regards


Best wishes

Sincerely—I favor this one because no matter what you have written, I hope you have been sincere.

Yours truly—This one annoys me because how many people we write to are truly ours?

In addition to commonly used closings, you can also close using thoughts that are pertinent to what you have just written:

Good job

Keep up the good work

Thank you

Thanks for your time

I look forward to hearing from you

Continued success

When you use a two (or more)-word closing, only the first word is capitalized. If you are writing to a group and you know some people more casually and others less so (some of the people you may never have met), address your closing to the latter group. Avoid slang.

In all instances, your closing needs to fit the tone of the content. If you have been critical, stern, annoyed, or even angry, then you certainly don’t want to close with “Warmly” (even though you may be hot under the collar).


Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Forwarding Emails

When we receive emails from friends, relatives or colleagues containing religious or political topics or anything else we might find annoying or objectionable, it is often difficult to find a kind way to tell them to stop. Perhaps it is best to delete those emails rather than sunder a friendship. You’ll have to make that choice. If the situation becomes oppressive, you’ll have to find a way to let those senders know your time is limited and you would prefer not to get emails on those topics in the future.

Before you forward an email, here are some pointers to remember:

1. Before passing on an email, think carefully about whether it truly is worth forwarding. Is it really that funny? That important? Could if offend some people you might send it to?

2. If you do decide to forward it, strip out everything except the guts of the message. If any personal information or email addresses are in the body of that email, get rid of them. You do not want to disseminate information that should remain private.

3.  Make sure to send the email BCC: to everyone. That way, you are not divulging people’s addresses to everyone on the list. If you send the email TO: or CC:, everyone’s address will appear. Again, those emails are private unless their owners want them made public. In addition, if some recipients decide to reply to you but accidentally click on REPLY ALL, then everyone you sent that email to will receive those answers from people they neither know nor care about. Everyone today gets far too much email as it is.  Forward only using BCC.

4. Before forwarding something, if you have any doubts about its veracity, check with  first to see if the content is valid.

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language