How to write a formal letter

Some people told me that they find it difficult to write formal letters and emails in Arabic. So, let’s check the most important ingredients of a letter. We start with the salutation (المخاطبة) and some opening phrases. 

Writing letters or emails in Arabic is actually not that difficult. Once you have started writing letters or emails, you will get used to the standard phrases pretty quickly. Never forget the most important rule: try to be polite!

In part 1, we will focus on the first parts of a letter.

Salutation:

السادة المحترمون جدًا
Dear gentlemen
Sehr geehrte Herren
السيدات المحترمات والسادة المحترمون
Dear ladies and gentlemen
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren
السيد سالم المحترم جدًا
Dear Mr. Salem
Sehr geehrter Herr Salem
السيد الدكتور سالم المحترم
Dear Dr. Salem
Sehr geehrter Herr Dr. Salem
أمي الحبيبة
Dear Mother
Liebe Mama
عزيزي حسن
Dear Hassan
Lieber Hassan
عزيزتي فاطمة
Dear Fatima
Liebe Fatima
فضيلة الشيخ
Esteemed Sheikh
Geschätzter Scheich
حضرة القاضي
Your Honor
Herr Vorsitzender (Anrede eines Richters)

Phrases to start the letter:

نحن نشكركم على المعلومات التي نهتم بمعرفتها
We thank you for your information which we found interesting.
Wir danken Ihnen für Ihre Informationen, die wir mit Interesse zur Kenntnis genommen haben.
نحن نشكركم على طلبكم 2 أغسطس
We thank you for your order dated 7th August.
Wir danken Ihnen für Ihre Bestellung vom 7. August.
شكرًا جزيلا على العرض الذي قدمتموه يوم 7 أغسطس
Thank you very much for your offer dated 15th August.
Herzlichen Dank für Ihr Angebot vom 15. August.
ردًا على خطابكم, أرسل لكم
In response to your letter I hereby send…
In Antwort auf Ihren Brief sende ich Ihnen…
نود أن نجيب عن استفساركم بشأن
We are happy to respond to your inquiry regarding…
Wir beantworten gerne Ihre Anfrage bezüglich…
نظرًا لعدم وجود عنوان للاتصال بالمكان المطلوب, فإني ﻷرجوكم أن تبعثوا بهذا الخطاب إلى الجهة المختصة
In the absence of a contact address, I turn to you with a request to forward this letter to the right place.
Mangels einer Kontaktadresse wende ich mich an Sie mit der Bitte, diesen Brief an die richtige Stelle weiterzuleiten.
أنا أود أن أحجز لديكم كما يلي
I would like to make the following reservation:
Ich möchte bei Ihnen Folgendes reservieren:
برجاء إبلاغنا بسعر 3 غرف مزدوجة بالحمام/التواليت وبالفطور في الفترة من 5-8 أغسطس
Please tell us the rate for 3 double rooms with bathroom/WC, breakfast included, for the period of 5th to 8th August.
Bitte teilen Sie uns den Preis für 3 Doppelzimmer mit Bad/WC und Frühstück für die Zeit vom 5. bis 8. August mit.
نحن نتقدم بالشكر الجزيل على مكالمتكم
We thank you for your call.
Wir danken Ihnen für Ihren Anruf.
بالإشارة إلى خطابكم المؤرخ 4 أغسطس لهذا العام يؤسفنا أن نبلغ حضرتك أننا لا نستطيع
Concerning your letter dated 4th August 2018, we are very sorry to inform you that we are not able to…
Mit Bezug auf Ihr Schreiben vom 4. August dieses Jahres müssen wir Ihnen leider mitteilen, dass wir nicht in der Lage sind…
إنه يؤسفني أن أشكو لسيادتكم سوء الخدمة في فندقكم والذي نعرضت له خلال فترة إقامتي الأخيرة لديكم
Unfortunately, I have to complain about the poor service of your hotel during out last stay.
Leider muss ich mich über den schlechten Service Ihres Hotels während unseres letzten Aufenthalts beschweren.
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Now, how should we finish a formal letter? Check out part two!

Note: This page was last updated on Oct 13, 2018 @ 12:39

Picture: pixabay (socksnap – stock images).

1- Starting Your French Letter

Before you even start writing your French letter, you need to select the correct title.

  1. If you don’t know who you are writing to, start your letters by “Messieurs”.
  2. If you are addressing your letter to “le Responsable des livraisons” but you still don’t know his/her name, start your letter with “Monsieur,” (even if you don’t know whether the person is a man or a woman).
  3. If you know the name of the person, start your letter by “Monsieur X, or Madame X,”.
  4. If it is someone you know, you met, or if you are answering to someone who wrote you first, then you can start with “Cher Monsieur X,” or “Chère Madame X,” if you feel like being a bit more friendly, not if you write to complain!
  5. If it’s a friend, start with “Cher Pierre,” ” Chère Anne,” [adblock]

Never write (Cher) Monsieur Pierre, nor (Cher) Monsieur Pierre X.

Watch out with “chéri(e)” (do say the final “i”), we use it only with very close family and people you are in love with. Never with friends, although we did about 50 years ago. But is has changed.

write letter in French

2- How to End Your French Letter

A typical way to introduce the ending greeting for a business letter is “dans l’attente de vous lire, je vous….”

a – French Business Letters (or Very Formal Letters)

  1. If it’s VERY formal, write: “Je vous prie d’agréer, repeat the title as you started your letter, l’expression de mes salutations distinguées.”
  2. If it’s VERY formal, but you are the one providing the service or the good, write: “Je vous prie d’agréer, repeat the title as you started your letter, l’expression de mes salutations dévouées.”
  3. A bit less formal: “Je vous prie d’agréer, repeat the title as you started your letter, l’expression de mes meilleures salutations.”
  4. Still formal but you know the person – not a friend, but it’s a personal relationship, not business: “Je vous prie d’agréer, repeat the title as you started your letter, l’expression de mes sentiments distingués.” For example, you are writing to the oncle of your friend, to thank him for giving you the name of a plumber. And they are a very formal family: “Je vous prie d’agréer, Cher Monsieur Dupont (or even Cher Frank if you are on a first name basis), l’expression de mes sentiments distingués.”
  5. One step less formal, but still quite business like, good for emails for example (note these end on the comma): “Meilleures salutations,” – “Salutations distinguées,” both kind of “regards”.
  6.  If it’s a not too formal situation, even for a professional relationship, you can write: “Cordialement,” this is kind of like “regards” to “warm regards” or “Bien à vous”, yours truly.

Check out French Today’s audiobook about French greetings and politeness.

b – French Letters For Acquaintances, Friends or Family

With acquaintances, or friends who are quite formal – or older, you write: “Amicalement,” or “Je vous adresse toute mon amitié,” kind of like “warmest regards”.With closer friends and family your write:

  1. More formal : “Affectueusement”, “affectueuses pensées” kind of like “Fondly”, or “Je vous embrasse” which is “hug and kisses” but using the formal “vous”,
  2. Less formal: “Je t’ embrasse (bien fort),” or “Gros bisous,” , “Grosses bises,” or “Bisous,” , the equivalent of “hugs and kisses”
  3. Absolutely not formal: “Bizoux”, “bizoudou”… kind of like xoxo
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Note that for all these expressions, the “vous” can also be used as a plural, and in this case may, or may not be as formal.

3 – If you are Typing, Watch out for the Punctuation

Some rules of punctuation used when typing out a text are different in French than in English.

  1. Un point d’exclamation ! Un point d’interrogation ? Space BEFORE and after
  2. Les deux points : un point virgule ; space BEFORE and after
  3. Une virgule,  a comma – no space before, space after
  4. Un point. A period – no space before, space after
  5. Trois petits points (also called les points de suspension)… – no space before, space after
  6. ” les guillemets ”  ouvrez les guillemets – fermez les guillemets – space after/before
  7. (les parenthèses) no space

5 – How To Write the Name on Your French Letter

You’ll write the address in the front of the letter, pretty much the same way you’d do anywhere in the US or Europe.

For the name, you have plenty of options: so let’s take my name for example.My first name is Camille.My maiden name is Chevalier.My married name is Chevalier-Karfis (hyphenated names are not common for French people: most wives would just take their husband’s last name).My husband’s first name is Olivier.

His last name is Karfis.

So you could write:

  1. Camille Chevalier-Karfis – straight and to the point – that’s the one I would use for a business kind of letter
  2. Madame Camille Chevalier-Karfis – pretty common in standard automated business letters
  3. Madame Chevalier-Karfis – that’s the one I would use if I wrote a personal letter
  4. Madame Olivier Karfis – very very old-fashioned and a tad snob. Using my husband’s first name and last name to define me… That’s the one my Mom would use.

What is a Formal Letter?

  • A formal letter is written for official purposes.
  • The tone of the letter is serious with literal meanings.
  • It includes letters written to institutions, government departments, business letters etc.

Therefore, the format of the formal letter should be clear to all in order to not lose marks in the SSC MTS Descriptive Test 2017.

Format of Formal Letter for SSC MTS

As it is already discussed that the tone of a formal letter is serious and most of the sentences are complex and add specific meaning to the writing. The format of a formal letter is standard and is applicable to all, therefore, it is imperative that you adhere to the format mentioned below!

A formal letter comprises of following elements.

  1. Address (Sender’s/Receiver’s)
  2. Date
  3. Salutation
  4. Subject
  5. Body Text
  6. Ending

1) Format of Formal Letter – Address

Senders’ Address – It should be written on the left-hand corner, it should include your street address, city, state, pin code and your contact number.

B-38, Agnipath ApartmentsCivil Lines, Allahabad211001, Uttar PradeshMob. no. – 7280124581

November 22, 2017

Receiver’s Address – Mention the recipient’s address in the right-hand corner just below the date.

2) Format of Formal Letter – Date & Salutation

Date – The date should be placed just below the sender’s address with a line gap.

Salutation – “Dear Sir/Madam” suffices, if you know the name of the person, address them directly ensure that you address them formally using “Rev.”, “Dr.”, “Mr.“, “Mrs.“, or “Ms.“, and include their full name.

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Dear Mr Edward Cullen,

3) Format of Formal Letter – Subject & Body

Subject – Write the subject of the letter, keep it brief and if possible in one line only.

Body Text – Organise the writing into paragraphs, the writing should include sophisticated vocabulary, standard spellings and punctuation.

  • The 1st paragraph should be short and on point, mention the purpose of the letter.
  • The paragraphs in the middle should contain some relevant details with reference to the purpose stated in the 1st para.
  • The last paragraph should talk about the action you expect the recipient of the letter to take.

4) Format of Formal Letter – Ending

Ending of a formal letter – Sign off with appropriate closing statement followed by your signature and full name, the most preferred salutations are –

Yours Faithfully,Your Sincerely,

Format of Formal Letter (Example)

Q) Write a letter to your civic body asking permission to send garbage trucks frequently in your residential area.

6C, Agnipath ApartmentsGhatkopar West, Mumbai400086, MaharashtraMob. no. – 7280124581November 22, 2017The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation19B/20A, Chembur East400071, Mumbai

Maharashtra.

Dear Mr Raghav Shinde,

Subject: Request letter to send garbage trucks.

I live in Ghatkopar West area, For the past 1 year I have been complaining about the filthy roads of this area but every time my efforts goes down the drain as the concerned department fails to take any action. The garbage trucks have become an out of the ordinary thing in this area as they seldom arrive.

The situation is getting worse day by day as now not only the beauty of the landscape but the health of the residents is getting affected. The mound of garbage serves as a breeder of mosquitoes. The foul smell filled in the air around is solely responsible for a headache and nausea reported by the residents. People living on the ground floor are majorly affected as the heaps of garbage lie just outside their kitchens or living areas because of which children and aged people find it hard to breathe.

The best one can do in this regard is making the garbage trucks more frequent in this area from thrice a month to all days in a week. It will take time for this area to go back to what it was therefore, I would request the authorities to take an intense and long-lasting step for the upliftment of this area.

I request you, sir, to kindly do the needful and make up for the long period of not doing anything before it is too late.

Yours Faithfully,

Ms Aneri Singh

Now, that you know the all about the complete Format of Formal Letter and in case you want to read more about the SSC MTS Descriptive Test, read the articles mentioned below!

Learn About Informal Letter Format Here!

Essay Writing Technique for SSC MTS

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