How to write an email to a friend giving news

Example

Check the following example.

 
Hi Chris,

It’s been a while! How are you doing? Thanks for your last email. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner but I’ve been very busy. I thought I’d drop you a line to say ‘hi’ and tell you about what I’ve been up to.

Things are going OK for me. Work is the same as usual. I’ve been doing a lot of overtime and saving money, so hopefully, I’ll be able to afford my own place this time next year. I’ve also been trying to get fit, so I’ve been jogging twice a week and I’ve joined a gym. I’ve lost a few kilos already so I’m quite pleased about that.  By the way, I went to Exeter to visit my mum last week, and you’ll never guess who I ran into. Marsha and Ian! I couldn’t believe it. They send their love. We went out to a nice restaurant by the harbour to catch up. Ian’s got a new job. He’s working in a lab doing research and he loves it. Marsha hasn’t been well lately. She’s been feeling very tired, and she’s been to the doctor a few times. But don’t worry, it’s all good news. She’s pregnant! Isn’t that great?

And what about you? How are you getting on in your new job in Italy? How long have you been there now? Three months? I hope you’ve found a nice place to live and met some interesting people. How are you finding the language? I must go now; I have to catch a train. Please, get in touch and let me know all about Italy.

Love,

Amy
 

Structure and useful phrases

 
You should start your email with a greeting and end it with a sign-off (closing line with your name under it).
 

Greeting

 
Use an informal greeting such as:

  • Hi Tom! 
  • Hello David,
  • Dear Sarah,

 

Sign-off

 
Finish your email with one of these phrases and write your name under it.

  • Kind regards, [More formal]
  • Best, [Casual]
  • All the best, [Casual]
  • Talk soon, [Casual]
  • Cheers, [Casual]
  • Love [To a close friend or family member]
  • Hugs (and kisses), [To a close friend or family member]

You may write three paragraphs between the greeting and the sign-off. Here are some ideas on what to include in each of these three paragraphs, and common phrases that you could use:
 

Opening paragraph

 
➪ Ask how your friend is doing.

  • How are you doing?
  • How’s it going?
  • How have you been?
  • I hope you are fine.

➪ You may also thank your friend for their last email, apologise for not writing earlier, or mention how long it has been since you and your friend were in touch.

  • Thanks for your last email.
  • It was nice to hear from you.
  • Sorry I didn’t reply sooner but I’ve been very busy.
  • Sorry, I haven’t been in touch but …
  • It’s been a while!
  • (= It’s been a long time)

  • It’s been a long time since we last spoke.

➪ State the reason why you are writing.

  • I’m writing because I wanted to tell you about …
  • I’m writing to tell you/to let you know that…
  • I thought I’d get in touch to tell you/to let you know that…
  • I thought I’d drop you a line to tell you/to let you know that…
  • … to tell you what’s going on in my life.
  • … to let you know what I’ve been up to.

 

Main paragraph

 
➪ You may say how you are.

  • Things are going well.
  • I’ve been doing great. 

➪ Tell your friend your news. You may use questions/exclamations to make it more interesting.

  • Do you know what happened to me?
  • You won’t believe what …/ who …!
  • You’ll never guess what …/ who …!
  • Isn’t that great?

➪ Use the present perfect simple and continuous for giving news.

  • I have joined a gym.
  • Marsha hasn’t been well.
  • I have been doing a lot of overtime.

➪ Use the present simple and continuous to talk about present situations and states.

  • I am very … (happy/tired/busy/etc.)
  • I have(a new car/a new job/a new apartment/etc.)
  • Things are going well.
  • Ian’s working at a science firm.
  • Marsha’s feeling a bit better now.

 

Closing paragraph

 
➪ Ask about your friend.

  • What about you? 
  • How are you finding + noun (= How is your experience with…?)
  • How are you getting on (in/with + noun)? (= How is your experience (with…)?)
  • What have you been doing?
  • What have you been up to?
  • Let me know… 
  • It’d be great to hear your news.
  • Get in touch. / Drop me a line. (= Contact me)

➪ You could mention why you have to stop writing.

  • I must go now.
  • I have to …

➪ Other common closing remarks.

  • I’m looking forward to your news.
  • I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
  • Waiting for your news.

 

Use the present perfect for giving news

 
We use the present perfect tense to talk about recent events. So, we normally use the present perfect for giving news. Both the present perfect simple and continuous can be used.
 

Present perfect simple

 
Present perfect – form
 
In informal emails, we often use short forms.

  • I‘ve joined a gym.
  • Marsha hasn’t been well.
  • She‘s been to the doctor.
  • How long have you been there now?

After and/but/or you can avoid repeating the same subject and the auxiliary have/has.

  • I hope you’ve found a nice place to live and [you’vemet some interesting people.
  • I’ve joined a gym and [I’ve] lost some weight.

Use the present perfect for finished events that happened recently, when you don’t specify the time. However, if you mention when something happens, you must use the past simple tense. The time may be mentioned in the same sentence or a previous sentence in the text.

  • I went to Exeter to visit my mum last week.
  • We went out to a nice restaurant by the harbour to catch up.

 

Present perfect continuous

 
Present continuous use
 
Form the present perfect continuous with have/has + been + verb-ing.

  • I’ve also been trying to get fit
  • I’ve been jogging twice a week.
  • What have you been doing?

We can use the present perfect continuous to talk about continuous or repeated actions or situations from the past till now.

  • She’s been taking a lot of medication. (=She has repeated this action for some time until now)
  • I’ve been living with my grandparents. (=This situation has been true for some time until now)

You can use two verbs in the same sentence (with the same subject) without repeating have/has.

  • I’ve been doing a lot of overtime and saving

However, if you want to change between present perfect continuous and simple in the same sentence, it is best to repeat have/has.

  • I’ve been jogging twice a week, swimming once a week, and have joined a gym.

The present perfect (simple and continuous) is often used in sentences that include the words: for and since , recently or yet.

  • I haven’t seen you since John’s party.
  • I’ve been in France for 3 months now.
  • I haven’t found a job yet.
  • I’ve been working hard recently.