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French Email Greetings

Instructor: AJ Dana-Yoblonski

Dual citizen of France and Canada. Journalist - French print media (L'Obs, Paris Match, Le Parisien, ...) / Private tutor (grammar: English, French, Latin; literature) / Institutional communications officer

How do you begin and end email messages in French to your boss? An acquaintance? Your family? It all depends on who is receiving the email! This lesson will explore different ways of greeting someone in an email in French.

Before You Go on a Holiday

Only one day left until your well-deserved summer break! In order to have a clear mind during your holiday, you want to make sure you have everything taken care of at work and at home.

You'll need to send an email to your boss, summing up your work projects. You'll also need to write to your neighbor to ask her if she can water your plants, and to your mom, to give her your flight information. What is the best way to begin and end these emails?

Before we discuss this, here are some tips to consider when writing emails in French. First, when you write to ask for a favor, don't be too abrupt; be sure to begin with pleasantries and inquire about the recipient. Second, no matter the situation or the recipient, always add a comma after the first greeting line.

Now, let's explore some greetings you can use when writing to work colleagues, acquaintances, and friends and family members.

Formal Greetings

Ecrire un email
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In French, emails always start with Bonjour (Hello) or Bonsoir (Good evening), unlike letters, which usually start with Cher / Chère (Dear...). If you're not acquainted with the recipient, use Bonjour monsieur / madame,, meaning 'Hello Sir / Ma'am'.

When writing to your boss, you should use the formal 'you', which is vous in French. Once you've summed up the projects you're working on, how can you end the email? You can tell him that you're at his disposal if necessary (although you hope he won't be writing to you during your holiday):

Je reste à votre disposition pour tout renseignement complémentaire: literally, 'I remain at your disposal for any further piece of information'. This is the French equivalent of 'please feel free to send me an email if need be'.

Here a few formal, polite expressions you can use in an email to sign off:

French Pronunciation Meaning
Merci par avance meh-r-see par a-von-s thanks in advance
Merci par avance pour votre compréhension meh-r-see par a-von-s poor vo-tr kan-pray-on-see-an thanks in advance for your understanding
Merci beaucoup meh-r-see bo-koo many thanks
Bien à vous bee-an a voo yours sincerely
Cordialement kor-dee-a-lö-mon best regards
Bien cordialement bee-an kor-dee-a-lö-mon kind regards, warm regards

Cordialement
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Informal Greetings

Now you need to email your neighbor Julie, to ask her to water your plants while you're away. Your relationship with Julie is not a friendship, but not formal either. You hang out with her once a year, during your neighborhood's annual block party. You're not formal enough to address her as vous; therefore, you can use tu.

You can be less formal at the beginning of the email by saying Salut Julie, (Hey Julie) instead of Bonjour.

You can also ask her how she's doing, which is considered a nice way to start an email (especially before asking for a favor):

  • Comment vas-tu? (ko-mon va-tu): how are you?
  • J'espère que tu vas bien (jeh-s-peh-r kö tu va bee-an): I hope you're doing well / I hope this email finds you well.
  • Quoi de neuf? (k-wah dö nöf): what's new?

You then tell her you're going away for 10 days, and ask her if she wouldn't mind watering your plants (arroser mes plantes).

Now that you've asked for your favor, you expect an answer (hopefully, a positive one). In order to convey this expectation, you can say:

Merci pour ton retour (meh-r-see poor tan rö-toor): thanks for your reply

Now to sign off - not too formal, but not too friendly either. Here are a few ways to achieve this in French:

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