Letter writing has been around in one form or another ever since the days of the first cloth parchment paper. In recent times, we’ve seen it go digital in the form of email and text. Despite advances in technology, however, there are still precious few people who know how to write a well-structured, professional email – especially in another language like Spanish.
It’s a subtle art and an important skill to learn. Essential to becoming such a multilingual person of letters is to understand that there are differences in what words to use depending on the formality of the letter. We’ve compiled a guide to help overcome these obstacles – one that provides the best phrases for writing a letter in Spanish.
When writing a letter in Spanish, you’ll always start with a greeting. For informal letters, you can use any one of the two:
- Hola: Similar to if you were casually greeting someone on the street in Spain, informal letters can begin with a simple hola. It translates very simply to ‘hi’, ‘hi there’, or ‘hey’ and is the most basic way to start an informal letter. An added bonus is that hola easy to remember because it doesn’t have any differences between masculine and feminine.
- Querido/Querida: is slightly more formal than hola, but you wouldn’t use it in a formal letter. It translates as ‘dear’, but the adjective’s ending will depend on the gender of the person to whom you are writing. You can also use the plural form when writing to a group of people, such as ‘Mis queridos amigos’, or ‘My dear friends’.
For informal letters, it’s really up to the writer as to which phrases he or she wants to use. Setting a casual tone is fine, so feel free to say what you like. Here are some common phrases to consider:
- Te escribo porque – I’m writing to you because…
- ¿Cómo te va? – How are you doing?
- Saluda a tu familia de I parte – Say hello to your family
- Me alegró mucho recibir noticias tuyas – It was lovely to hear from you.
- Espero que estés bien – Hope you’re doing well
- Tanto tiempo sin hablarnos – Long time no talk
There are many more ways to end an informal Spanish letter than there are greetings. That aside, here are some of the most common ones:
- Besos y abrazos: This is great when you want to say goodbye to a loved one, as it literally means ‘hugs and kisses.’ It’s also quite a common farewell at the end of English-language letters.
- Afectuosamente: Similar to the above, afectuosamente is a loving farewell typically reserved for family and friends. It translates to ‘yours, affectionately’, and it’s traditional to finish the phrase with the name of the person sending the letter.
- Saludos: This goodbye is useful in informal letters for people the writer isn’t close to, such as acquaintances. It simply means ‘greetings’ and finishes the letter off nicely.
For formal letters, it’s important to ensure your Spanish is perfect because it’s a reflection of the professionalism of the writer. Never use slang, and always double-check infinitives before sending.
Similar to when drafting an informal letter, there are two main opening phrases you can use at the beginning. Choose between these formal Spanish phrases:
- A quien pueda interesar: It’s best to use this phrase at the beginning of a letter when the recipient’s name is unknown. It translates to ‘to whom it may concern.’ It’s typically the easier option when feminine and masculine infinitives are confusing to the writer.
- Estimado/Estimada: Although querido is an informal Spanish word for ‘dear’, estimado means the same thing but can also be used in formal letters. It’s best accompanied by señor or señora and then the recipient’s last name. Be sure to remember to use the correct ending for the recipient’s gender.
The phrases used in a formal letter will depend on the message the writer is trying to communicate. However, when in doubt it’s best to use usted instead of tú throughout the text to show the recipient respect. Here are some examples of popular formal Spanish phrases used in letters:
- Adjunto encontrará – Enclosed you will find
- Les escribo para informarles – I am writing to inform you (plural)
- Quedo a la espera de sus noticias – I look forward to hearing from you
- Por favor no dude en contactarme si necesita más información – Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information
- Gracias por su asistencia con este asunto – Thank you for your assistance in this matter
There is a large selection of polite and professional farewells you can use to end a formal letter. Here are some of the most popular options:
- Saludos cordiales: This farewell is best when you want to wish the recipient well. It translates to ‘warm regards’ and is one of the best ways to end a formal letter.
- Atentamente/Cordialmente: Another polite way to end the letter is with this phrase, which means ‘yours sincerely’ or ‘yours faithfully’ and typically goes before the writer’s name.
- Muchas gracias: And if you’d like to thank the recipient while signing off, use this phrase, which simply means ‘thank you very much.’
Informal and formal letter examples
Now it’s time to put these phrases together. Below are some examples you can use as a framework when writing a letter in Spanish:
Me alegró mucho recibir noticias tuyas. ¿Vas a la fiesta de cumpleaños de Patricia? ¡Me encantaría verte!
Besos y abrazos.
It was lovely to hear from you. Are you going to Patricia’s birthday party? Would be great to see you!
Hugs and kisses,
Estimado Sr. González:
Gracias por su rápida respuesta. Adjunto encontrará una copia de la solicitud, junto a otros documentos informativos. Por favor no dude en contactar conmigo si necesita más información. Quedo a la espera de recibir noticias suyas tan pronto como le sea posible.
The importance of letters
Writing a letter in Spanish doesn’t have to be difficult – and with the right words, it will always lead to success. However, there’s one principal thing to keep in mind if you’re trying to appear professional: it is vital to use formal Spanish phrases. If you employ the above recommendations, rest assured that you will do no wrong. So, break out that pen and paper and send a letter today with iScribo.