So you know they’re out there, those “faux amis”…. those expressions that don’t quite translate. But you should be careful when you write your emails, because there are A LOT of little mistakes to watch out for.
Here is an example of an email with some MISTAKES. Can you spot the problems in this email and try to correct them?
I write you because I have a problem for our meeting tomorrow. I have to meet with a supplier in the morning, and I don’t think I will finish on time. Can we report our meeting to another time? I propose you the afternoon instead, or in the morning on Thursday or Friday. Thank you to tell me what time is best for you.”
So did you see anything strange??
What about “I write you.” What is the problem here? Well because it’s an action you’re doing AT THE MOMENT, you must use the present continuous (-ing). The present simple is used for habits, every day actions. (ex. I write emails EVERY DAY). So it should be “I’m writing.”
Do you see any other mistakes??
How about “Can we report our meeting.” Be careful, “report” does not mean the same thing in English as in French. Instead you can say “push back,” “move,” “change,” or “postpone” a meeting.
The next problem is the word “propose.” You use this word in French, but in English it’s a little strange. It would be better to say “suggest.” You can suggest a time for a meeting.
The last mistake is “thank you to tell me…” In French you can say “merci de me dire…” “merci de m’envoyer..” etc. In English we don’t use this same expression. When you are asking a favor or a request you should say “Please tell me” or “could you tell me” or to be very polite, “could you please tell me…” but NOT “thank you to tell me.”
So here is what the CORRECT email should look like (with a few changes to make it more ENGLISH and less FRANGLISH):
I’m afraid I have a problem for our meeting tomorrow. I have to meet with a supplier in the morning, and I don’t think I will finish on time. Can we move our meeting to another time? How about in the afternoon instead, or in the morning on Thursday or Friday. Let me know what time is best for you.”