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

Continuing our section on writing a letter in French, we look at some common forumlae for closing a letter in French.

Closures: informal

Closures to informal letters are less formulaic than formal or business letters, so there are a variety of possibilities. Here are some common ones:

Je t'embrasse-Big hugs
Amicalement-Best wishes (used between friends)
Affectueusement...-Love from...
(Grosses) bises-=(big) hugs
Gros bisous-Love (and kisses)
Bisouxx-Kisses (humorous variant used in e-mail and text messages)
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Closures: formal

Traditionally, French business correspondence ends with one of various silly long-winded formulae, although particularly in the case of e-mail correspondence, these are starting to go out the window. A common favourite for closing a semi-formal business e-mail is cordialement.

Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur/Madame, nos salutations distinguées.-=Yours sincerely
Je vous prie d'agréer, Monsieur/Madame, l'expression de mes sentiments respectueux.-=Yours sincerely, when writing to a superior
Veuillez agréer, Monsieur/Madame, l'assurance de notre parfaite considération.-=Yours sincerely, when writing to somebody of a lower grade
Je vous prie de croire, Monsieur/Madame, à l'assurance de mes salutations distinguées-=Yours faithfully/sincerely, used especially when writing to a person in an important position
Cordialement-Regards
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See also the general section on writing a business letter in French.

Notes:

  • As you would expect, je vous prie would be replaced by nous vous prions by somebody writing on behalf of a company.
  • When addressing a person with a title such as Madame le Proviseur, it's usually to repeat the whole expression in the closing formula instead of simply Monsieur/Madame.
  • It's common to tack the closing formula on to an expression such as Dans l'attente de vous lire (Dans l'attente de vous lire, je vous prie....).

By the way, there's no shame in not remembering these formulae: many French speakers end up looking them up in a book and/or using numerous variants (and arguing about which is "correct"). One convention is that agréer is used when you have a "filler" word like expression, assurance; recevoir or accepter is used when salutations directly follows.

Next: phrases for business letters/e-mails

On the next page, we look at useful phrases and vocabulary for writing a business letter in French.


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