How to Write an Email in Chinese: The Business-ready Guide
Emails are a form of formal communication in Chinese.
So if you find yourself in the position of needing to write an email in Chinese, you may be sweating a bit.
Still, it’s definitely doable, even for a beginner Mandarin learner!
Our guide here can help anybody who wants to write an email in Chinese, be it for business or another polite purpose.
- 1. Subject Line
- 2. Addressing and Greeting
- 3. Body
- 4. Closing
- 5. Signature
- What Do I Need to Write an Email in Chinese?
- Additional Tips for Writing Emails in Chinese
- And One More Thing...
1. Subject Line
Any business culture in the East or West appreciates brevity, clarity and politeness. So if your email is work-related, your subject line should take that into account.
Similarly, even a subject line to a pen pal or other non-business entity is usually best if brief and clear.
(xīn gāng bǐ xū qiú)
Request for new pens
Note: For the sake of learning and pronunciation, we’ll include pinyin in these instructions. Note that your final email should be solely composed of hanzi.
2. Addressing and Greeting
Be sure to personally greet everyone who will be reading the email and include business-appropriate labels. If you don’t know the exact name of the person you’re emailing, the Chinese version of “to whom it may concern” (below) is perfectly acceptable.
In many English-speaking cultures, a little bit of friendly informality is normal, but this isn’t so much the case in Chinese culture. When it comes to requests or bad news, it’s very common in Chinese business culture to apologize for inconvenience even if there is no substantial inconvenience.
If you’re writing an email to a Chinese pen pal, on the other hand, then using informal (though still polite) language is a great way to make an emotional connection with a new friend.
(zhì xiāng guān rén shì:)
To whom it may concern:
(rú yǒu bú biàn zhī chù, jìng qǐng jiàn liàng.)
I apologize for any inconvenience, I kindly ask your forgiveness.
Other Chinese Phrases:
|zūn jìng de xiān sheng / nǚ shì
|zūn jìng de __ xiān sheng / nǚ shì
|Dear Mr./Ms. __
|hěn gāo xìng shōu dào nǐ men de lái xìn.
|Glad to receive your letter.
|hěn cháng shí jiān méi yǔ nǐ lián xì, qǐng yuán liàng!
|Sorry for not getting in touch with you for so long.
The body of your email doesn’t need to be incredibly short, but it should be quick and to the point if you’re writing for business purposes. This is especially the case if you’re asking for something or your email is time-sensitive.
Non-business emails can be a little longer, depending on the context, but it’s wise for the beginner to keep it brief to avoid too many mistakes that could leave the recipient scratching their head.
(zhè shì 214 bàn gōng shì de ài mǐ lì.)
This is Emily from office #214.
(cái wù bù mén xū yào yì xiē hēi sè gāng bǐ.)
The finance department is in need of some new black ink pens.
(qǐng wèn nín néng gěi wǒ men jì 500 bāo bǐ ma?)
Would you please send me 500 packages of pens?
(qǐng zài fāng biàn shí jǐn zǎo jiāng bāo guǒ jì lái.)
Please send us the package at your earliest convenience.
Other Chinese Phrases:
|hé tong wén běn
|a copy of the contract
|hěn gāo xìng hé nǐ men bǎo chí...
|It is always a pleasure to keep... with you.
|qǐng nín bú bì kè qi, jǐn guǎn yǔ wǒ men lián xì.
|Please do not hesitate to contact us.
|wǒ men hěn lè yì tóng nín jìn xíng hé zuò.
|We are happy to work together.
|wǒ men què xìn wǒ men de qǐng qiú jiāng…
|We trust our request will...
|wǒ men xī wàng nín néng…
|We hope that you will...
|wǒ men xī wàng tí xǐng guì fāng zhù yì…
|We would like to call your attention to...
|yǒu rèn hé wèn tí, qǐng jí shí lián xì.
|Please contact me in case you have any questions.
|xiáng xì zī liào qǐng kàn fù jiàn.
|Please see enclosure for details.
|zài cǐ fāng miàn rú guǒ néng gòu dé dào nín de hé zuò wǒ jiāng fēi cháng gǎn xiè.
|Your kind cooperation in this respect is greatly appreciated.
|qǐng dài wǒ xiàng guì gōng sī zǒng jīng lǐ wèn hòu.
|Please send my best regards to your GM!
|qǐng jiē shòu wǒ men chéng zhì de qiàn yì.
|Please accept our sincere apologies.
|dé zhī …, wǒ men gǎn dào hěn yí hàn
|It is regretful to hear that...
|wǒ men bào qiàn de tōng zhī nín…
|We are sorry to inform you that...
Always thank your readers thoroughly for reading your email. Again, politeness, modesty and humility are key to coming off as someone who cares about saving face. Not every email you send needs to end with an apology and a gratuitous thankful statement, but make it clear you care about them taking the time.
(má fán nín le!)
Sorry for the trouble!
Thanks a lot!
Other Chinese Phrases:
|wǒ men huì zài zuì duǎn de shí jiān nèi yǔ nín lián luò.
|We will contact you as soon as possible.
|jìng qǐng chá yuè.
|qǐng jǐn kuài huí fù!
|Please reply as soon as possible!
|qī dài zhe nín de fù yīn.
|We look forward to your reply.
|qǐng bǎo chí lián luò.
|Please stay in touch.
|rú yǒu xiāo xī, wǒ men huì tí qián tōng zhī nǐ men.
|We will inform you if we have any news.
|duō xiè hé zuò!
|Thank you for your cooperation!
|zhù gōng zuò shùn lì, shēng huó xìng fú!
|We wish you a successful career and happy life!
|cǐ zhì jìng lǐ
|wǒ men yù zhù nín zài xīn de yì nián lǐ jiāng gèng jiā huī huáng hé chéng gōng.
|We wish you a bright and successful New Year.
Business card culture is very important in China and Japan, so your signature should include your contact information and relevant information. This is even so for non-business emails; you’ll look quite professional with a dense signature.
Remember, your signature should be entirely in hanzi except for the tail end of the email address. You can also write your name in English if you don’t have a Chinese translation of your name.
(ài mǐ lì)
(cái wù zhuān jiā)
(xī māo xiàng 1234 hào)
1234 West Cat Lane
(ài mǐ lì @sina.com)
What Do I Need to Write an Email in Chinese?
- A hanzi keyboard. If you’re writing your email on a smartphone or tablet, this is especially necessary. Luckily, it’s a quick and easy process to find and install a hanzi keyboard.
- A Chinese-English dictionary with both hanzi and 拼音 (pīn yīn) — Chinese romanization. When you get stuck on certain vocabulary words, a translating dictionary is vital. This in-depth dictionary from Chinese-Tools is one this writer uses on the regular for its accuracy and links to example sentences for context.
- A translator app or site. You can’t really copy and paste an entire English email into a translator app and come up with an accurate Chinese version. Mandarin sentence structure is different from English, as you know, so you’ll have to actually use your Mandarin language skills to write this piece of literature. (Bummer, right?) Still, a translator app like DeepL is handy to have around just in case.
- A script of what you want to say in English. It’s wise to write your email in English before breaking it down into Mandarin so you make sure to cover everything you want to say. Don’t just play as you go.
Additional Tips for Writing Emails in Chinese
- Keep your emails concise. Since emails are seen as formal in Chinese (and often for business purposes), be direct and straight to the point while remaining polite.
- Practice the vocabulary above. These are common in emails, so you’ll likely use at least a few of them! Language learning programs are also helpful for picking up more business Chinese and other practical expressions. For instance, FluentU comes with Chinese videos that cover topics like renting a conference room and talking about your work history.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
- Always run through your email several times and properly proofread it. Make sure your sentence structures are correct, your vocabulary words are accurate and you’ve used correct Chinese punctuation such as 。or 、instead of English periods and commas.
- For intermediate and advanced learners: Try to stick as close to your English script as possible and use this opportunity to learn vocabulary words that may be more difficult in Chinese. You could always dumb down your email to make translation easier, but where’s the challenge in that?
Are you feeling a little less overwhelmed by writing an email in Chinese?
It’s not hard at all!
Even if your email doesn’t come out perfect, you’ve taken an important step towards mastering Chinese emails—and Chinese as a language as well.
And One More Thing...
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FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.
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