French Phrases: How to write a letter or e-mail in French

The following phrases and vocabulary are useful when writing a letter or e-mail in French. In this first page, we look at how to begin a letter. Then on the next pages we'll look at standard closing formulae and useful phrases for writing a French business letter.

Letter openings

In informal letters, the word cher (feminine chère) is used in a similar way to English Dear. In more formal letters, the word Monsieur etc tends to stand on its own (though Cher Monsieur etc is possible).

Cher Michel-Dear Michel (male form)
Chère Michelle-Dear Michelle (female form)
Chers Michel et Danielle-Dear Michel and Danielle
Salut Daniel!-Hi Daniel!
Bonjour (à tous)!-Hello (all)! (Used in e-mails)
Coucou!-Hi there! (Very informal; suitable for an informal e-mail between friends)
Recoucou!-Hi again! (Very informal; suitable for an informal e-mail between friends)
Chers Collègues-Dear Colleagues
Monsieur-Dear Sir
Madame-Dear Madame
Messieurs-Dear Sirs
Monsieur le Directeur-Dear Sir (writing to a director, CEO etc)
Monsieur le Maire/Proviseur-Dear Mayor/Headmaster
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Next: letter closures

See the next page for example letter closures in French.

Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.