A Simple Guide to Writing Letters in French - Talk in French
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A Simple Guide to Writing Letters in French

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Letter-writing can be stressful to a lot of people…. and it becomes even more so if you are going to do it in French! Here in this article, we will take a look at some ways to make writing letters in French a lot easier for you with tips on how to write formal (business) letters as well as personal letters.

Before we proceed with the lesson, a key thing to remember is that letters in French tend to be more formal than those in English. Even personal correspondence, which can have an informal tone in English, is still several notches more formal when written in French.

I. Greetings/ Salutations

To begin your letter, you need the proper salutation and the correct title of the person you are writing to.

For personal correspondence, you can choose between the following scenarios and salutations:

If you know the person, you can use the following:

Cher Monsieur

Cher Monsieur

Chère Madame

Chère Madame

Chère Mademoiselle

Chers amis

Mon cher Pierre

Ma très chère Louise

Dear Sir

Dear Mr.

Dear Ma’am

Dear Mrs.

Dear Miss

Dear friends

My dear Pierre

My dearest Louise

For personal correspondence where you do not know the person you are writing to, you can choose from the following:

Monsieur

Monsieur

Madame

Madame

Mademoiselle

Messieurs

Sir

Mr.

Ma’am

Mrs.

Miss

Sirs

For business letters, salutations are very formal and includes the recipient’s title as needed. You may use the following salutations:

Monsieur, Madame

Messieurs

Monsieur

Madame

Mademoiselle

Monsieur le Directeur

Monsieur le Ministre

Sir, Ma’am

Sirs

Sir

Madam

Miss

Director

Minister

II. How to close your letter

Just like the salutations, you will also need to use the correct closing at the end of your letter.

For personal letters to friends and family, you may close it using the following expressions:

Je vous envoie mes amicales pensées.  Best wishes.

Recevez, je vous prie, mes meilleures amitiés. Yours sincerely.

Je vous adresse mon très amical souvenir. Kindest regards.

Cordialement (à vous) Sincerely (yours)

Votre ami dévoué(e) Your devoted friend

Chaleureusement With warm regards; Warmly

Bien amicalement Sincerely; In friendship

Amitiés Best wishes, All the best

Bien à vous, Bien à toi Best wishes

À bientôt ! See you soon!

Affectueusement Fondly

affectueuses pensées With fond thoughts

Please note that the translations are not exactly the same, but more or less mean the same thing.

For formal/ business letters, use the following for closing.

Cordialement

Bien à vous

Cordially

Yours truly

The two mentioned above are not too formal, and could be used for less formal situations.

Meilleures salutations

Salutations distinguées  

Best regards

Sincerely

Je vous prie d’agréer, <insert the same title you used in your greetings> l’expression de mes sentiments distingués.

Please accept,______, the expression of my highest consideration. 

Je vous prie d’agréer, <insert the same title you used in your greetings> l’expression de mes meilleures salutations.

Please accept,______ , the expression of my best regards.

Again, please take note that the above translations are more or less the equivalent expressions in English.

III. Some examples

Let’s take a look at two sample letters below. The first one is a personal letter and the second is a business letter.

Example 1: Personal Letter

Chère Mademoiselle,

C’est avec plaisir que je vous écris. L’envie me prend soudainement de vous conter l’une de mes nombreuses aventures...

Je vous envoie mes bien amicales pensées. À bientôt !

Dear Miss,

It is with pleasure that I’m writing to you. The urge suddenly takes me to tell you of one of my many adventures …

Best wishes. See you soon!

Example 2: Business Letter

Monsieur,

Je me permets de vous écrire concernant l’offre de poste...

Je vous prie d’agréer, Monsieur, l’expression de mes sentiments distingués.

Sir,

Allow me to write you about the job’s offer.

Please accept, sir, the expression of my highest consideration.

IV. Additional Tips

Here are more tips in writing letters in French.

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    In writing formal letters, always use “vous” and never “tu”.
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    For personal letters, you may use “tu” but only with people you are in tu terms with.
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    A properly worded and formatted letter will make your content sound credible. So take note of the correct form.
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    Write the return address at the top left of the page
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    The recipient’s address will be placed below it to the right side.
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    Under it, place the town or city where the letter is being sent followed by the date.

V. Conclusion

Letter-writing is still a skill that is pretty much necessary despite the different forms of communication available today.

For the complete lesson on French letters including audio guides and exercises, grab your copy of My French Routine, a complete learning series that you could use to learn French independently from beginner level to advanced.

This particular lesson is part of My French Routine Volume 6: For Advanced Level.

About the Author Frederic

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +

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