Communicating with tutors: writing emails 2

time to complete: 20-30 minutes

We will now do some tasks to practice identifying good and bad emails to tutors.

Task: Read the two emails below. Which is more appropriate, Email 1 or Email 2? Why? Have a think, then complete the True or False task that follows.

Email 1

Subject: sick homework

Hi Mr David,

How r u doing? Here is my homework 4 Monday’s class. It’s attached 2 this email. BTW, I  caught a terrible  virus: coughing, vomiting and feeling feverish. I’ll try to go to class, but if you don’t see me, I am in bed.


Email 2

Subject: Sickness absence / homework attached

Dear Mr Sykes,

I hope you are well. It’s Andrea from Human Osteology. 

I am writing to let you know that I might be absent from Monday’s class. I have been feeling unwell the past few days, so I don’t think I will be able to attend. I have, however, prepared the homework for the class; it’s attached to this email.

Enjoy your weekend.

Kind regards,

Andrea Rucci

Note: The emails are entirely fictitious, and they were written for demonstration purposes.


Email 1

Email 2


Not clear e.g. sick homework?



Incorrect – title + first name

Correct – title + surname


The student has not identified themselves or the class they are referring to.

It’s Andrea from Human Osteology. 


Informal e.g. 


How r u doing?


If you don’t see me, I am in bed.


BTW (= by the way)


numbers instead of words e.g. 2 (=to), 4 (=for)

Formal e.g. 


I hope you are well.


I don’t think I will be able to attend.


‘Too much information’ (= includes personal information not appropriate for the context) e.g.

I caught a terrible virus: coughing, vomiting and feeling feverish

Sufficient information e.g.


I have been feeling unwell the past few days

Organisation of ideas

The main idea seems to be the submission/attachment.


BTW (= by the way) gives the impression that the absence is not directly related to what the student has been talking about.

Better connection of ideas. The focus of this structure is that the student did the work even though she is likely to be absent from class.


…I don’t think I will be able to attend. I have, however, prepared the homework for the class…

Closing remarks

Informal; inappropriate.

Thoughtful final comment; closing remarks; full name.


Enjoy your weekend.


Kind regards,

Andrea Rucci

Task: Below is the email we saw earlier. How would you improve it? Take a few minutes to rewrite it based on what we covered so far.  Use the information provided below. 

  • Sender: Martin Brooks
  • Recipient: Ms Paula Villegas
  • Module: ELL601

Subject: Help pleeeease

Dr Paul,

can u tell me how 2 submit. i no you’ve went over this in class but i have had a REALLY LONG week – so much coursework innit 😖😠 and i lost my notes lol



Note: Note: The email is entirely fictitious, and it was written for demonstration purposes.

Now, compare your answer to the model below.

  • Appropriate salutation & closing remarks
  • Stating who you are and what the purpose of the email is
  • Providing context that sets up the request
  • The request for help


Subject: Help with submission instructions for ELL601 

Dear Ms Villegas, 

My name is Martin Brooks and I am taking ELL601 with you. I am writing to enquire about next week’s submission. I took notes when you went over the instructions in class, but I seem to have misplaced them. I looked on Blackboard but I couldn’t find the relevant slides. I would be most grateful if you could tell me where to find them.

Kind regards,

Martin Brooks

Language for requests

In previous pages, we identified language that is useful when asking for help or advice. The language we use to write a request by email is similar. Have a look at the following examples:

  • Could you…, please?
  • Could you possibly…?
  • Would you be able to…?
  • Would it be possible to…?
  • Would you mind + verb-ing…, please?
  • I wonder if you could…
  • I was wondering if you would be able to…
  • If possible, I’d like to know about…
  • I’d be very grateful if you could…
  • I’d really appreciate it if you could…
  • I hope you might be able to…
  • Would it be OK if I…?

Note: If you have emailed your tutor and they haven’t replied within a reasonable amount of time (usually a few days), you might be wondering if it’s okay to email again and remind them of your request. You can do this, but you need to make sure you use the right language. Have a look at the examples below:

This is a gentle reminder that I have emailed you asking for help.

❌ I emailed you three days ago, but you haven’t replied yet.

❌ I haven’t heard from you about my request. I need an answer asap.

❌ I’ve emailed you twice so far; I’m still waiting for a reply.

I was wondering if you have had the chance to look at my request.

I am just following up to check if you had a look at my previous email.

Sorry, but I haven’t heard from you and I am worried that you missed my email dated on…

I’m sorry to bother you again, but I was wondering if you had received my email concerning…

Top tips

Finally, we will finish this lesson with some very important tips of advice:

  • Make sure you are emailing the right person
  • Include an appropriate salutation
  • Start your message with a clear request
  • If there are multiple parts to the email, break it up into smaller paragraphs
  • Be polite
  • Don’t demand a response ASAP
  • Avoid non-standard spelling, informal vocabulary, emojis, ALL CAPS and (too many) abbreviations
  • Check grammar, spelling and punctuation