Perfecting Your Emails (20 Common Mistakes to Avoid)

Elevate your email skills by avoiding 20 common mistakes. Learn to write clear, concise, and professional emails with our guide.

Whether you’re a business owner, an employee, or a freelancer, your ability to convey your thoughts clearly and professionally in an email can make a significant difference in your professional relationships and career growth.

email writing

This guide aims to elevate your email writing skills by highlighting some common mistakes people often make, and providing practical tips to sound more professional in your emails. From understanding the correct usage of ‘your’ and ‘you’re‘, to maintaining a professional tone, to crafting concise and clear emails, this article is your go-to resource for effective professional email communication.

Read on to avoid common pitfalls and learn how to write emails that not only communicate effectively but also leave a positive impression.

20 Common Mistakes in Email


Misusing “Your” and “You’re”: This is a common mistake where “your” (possessive) is confused with “you’re” (contraction of “you are“).

Incorrect: I hope your doing well.

Correct: I hope you’re doing well.


Improper use of “Its” and “It’s”:Its” is possessive, while “it’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has“.

Incorrect: Its been a long time since we last met.

Correct: It’s been a long time since we last met.


Excessive Use of Exclamation Points: Using too many exclamation points can make the message seem unprofessional.

Incorrect: Thanks for your help!!!

Correct: Thanks for your help.


Run-On Sentences: These can make an email difficult to understand. Breaking long sentences into shorter ones can improve readability.

Incorrect: I received your message and I want to let you know that I will be available for the meeting tomorrow and I will bring the documents you requested.

Correct: I received your message. I want to let you know that I will be available for the meeting tomorrow. I will bring the documents you requested.


Incorrect use of “Their”, “They’re”, and “There”:Their” is possessive, “they’re” is a contraction of “they are“, and “there” refers to a place.

Incorrect: There going to bring their car to the meeting.

Correct: They’re going to bring their car to the meeting.


Using Slang or Informal Language: Emails, especially professional ones, should avoid slang and maintain a formal tone.

Incorrect: Hey dude, can u check this out?

Correct: Hi John, could you please take a look at this?


Not Using Commas correctly: Commas can drastically change the meaning of a sentence if not used correctly.

Incorrect: Let’s eat grandpa.

Correct: Let’s eat, grandpa.


Capitalization Errors: Failing to capitalize proper nouns or starting sentences with a lowercase letter can make the email look unprofessional.

Incorrect: i hope you are well, john.

Correct: I hope you are well, John.


Not Proofreading: This can lead to a number of errors, including typos, grammatical errors, and incorrect information.

Incorrect: I look forwand to meeting with you.

Correct: I look forward to meeting with you.


Being Too Wordy: Using too many words can make your message confusing and time-consuming to read.

Incorrect: I was just writing to let you know that I have reviewed the document you sent over and I think that it is in pretty good shape overall, but I think there are a few small changes that could be made that would improve it.

Correct: I’ve reviewed your document. It’s in good shape but could use a few minor changes.


Not Using a Proper Salutation: Starting an email without a proper greeting can seem impolite or too abrupt.

Incorrect: About the meeting tomorrow…

Correct: Dear John, I would like to discuss the meeting tomorrow…


Misuse of “Less” and “Fewer”:Less” is used with singular mass nouns, while “fewer” is used with plural countable items.

Incorrect: We need less employees for this project.

Correct: We need fewer employees for this project.


Incorrect use of “affect” and “effect”:Affect” is typically a verb meaning to influence, while “effect” is typically a noun meaning result.

Incorrect: The change in policy had a negative affect on the team.

Correct: The change in policy had a negative effect on the team.


Ending a Sentence with a Preposition: While not always wrong, it is often better to avoid ending sentences with prepositions in formal writing.

Incorrect: The meeting is something I am not available for.

Correct: I am not available for the meeting.


Subject-Verb Agreement Mistakes: The subject and verb of a sentence must agree in number.

Incorrect: The team of managers are in a meeting.

Correct: The team of managers is in a meeting.


Using “Then” Instead of “Than”:Then” typically refers to time, while “than” is used in comparisons.

Incorrect: Your report is more detailed then mine.

Correct: Your report is more detailed than mine.


Incorrect Use of Semi-Colons: Semi-colons are used to connect closely related independent clauses. They are not just a fancy substitute for a comma or a colon.

Incorrect: I have a meeting at 5; we can meet after.

Correct: I have a meeting at 5. We can meet after.


Using “Me” Instead of “I” and Vice Versa: The misuse of pronouns “me” and “I” is a common mistake. “I” is a subject pronoun and “me” is an object pronoun.

Incorrect: John and me went to the meeting.

Correct: John and I went to the meeting.


Not Using the Oxford Comma: The Oxford comma is the comma used immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually “and” or “or“) in a list of three or more items. Its omission can sometimes cause confusion.

Incorrect: I would like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God.

Correct: I would like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand, and God.


Spelling Mistakes: These are quite common and can change the meaning of the sentence or make it hard to understand.

Incorrect: I’ll see you latter.

Correct: I’ll see you later.

Bonus: How to Sound More Professional in Email


Use a Professional Greeting: Start with a formal salutation that addresses the recipient by name.

Example: Instead of “Hey“, use “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. [Last Name]” or “Dear [First Name]“.


Be Clear and Concise: Keep your email as short and as clear as possible. Don’t use more words than necessary.

Example: Instead of “I was just reaching out to let you know that I received the document you sent over“, say “I received the document you sent“.


Avoid Slang or Informal Language: Use proper English and avoid abbreviations and jargon unless you’re sure the recipient understands them.

Example: Instead of “Can u check this ASAP?“, say “Could you please review this at your earliest convenience?


Use a Professional Tone: Try to maintain a formal or semi-formal tone in your email.

Example: Instead of “Hey, what’s up with the report?“, say “Could you please provide an update on the report?


Proofread Your Emails: Always check your emails for grammatical errors, typos, and incorrect information before sending them.

Example: Instead of “I look forwand to our meeting“, say “I look forward to our meeting“.


Use Proper Sign-Off: End your email with a professional closing, followed by your name.

Example: Instead of “Cheers“, use “Kind regards, [Your Name]” or “Sincerely, [Your Name]“.


Structure Your Email Properly: Use paragraphs to break up your content. It makes your email easier to read.

Example: Break up your points into different paragraphs rather than having them in one block of text.


Be Polite: Use phrases like “please”, “thank you”, “would you mind”, etc.

Example: Instead of “Send me the report“, say “Could you please send me the report?


Avoid Using ALL CAPS: Writing in all capital letters can come across as shouting.

Example: Instead of “URGENT: SEND THE REPORT“, say “Urgent: Please send the report“.


Avoid Excessive Use of Exclamation Points: Overuse of exclamation points can seem unprofessional and overly emotional.

Example: Instead of “Thanks!!!“, say “Thank you.