How to Write an Email in German

If you’re learning German, you’ve surely seen a lot of grammar rules, vocabulary words and sentence structures.

But have you learned how to write an email in German?

This is an incredibly practical thing to know how to do, but one that’s often missed by German courses and other learning resources. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to write a proper German email with the appropriate level of formality, common greetings and sign-offs and some useful words and phrases. 

Plus, you’ll get two sample emails (both formal and informal) to show you how all of the elements look in practice. 


5 Important Elements of a German Email 

In the following sections, you’ll learn some important rules and general suggestions for the five main elements of a German email. 

All these rules apply for letters as well. You may think that you won’t need to write a letter in German in today’s modern world, but think again. Germany actually still relies on snail mail for many matters of official business.

1. How to start an email in German

For a formal email

Formal emails (and letters) in German start in an equally formal manner: Sehr geehrte (most esteemed/very dear) so-and-so. Make sure to use the correct case endings for sehr geehrte (it is an adjective, after all).

So if you’re writing to Ms. or Mrs. Fischer, you would write Sehr geehrte Frau Fischer, but if you’re addressing your email to Mr. Brandt, you would write Sehr geehrter Herr Brandt.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Sehr geehrter Herr Weber, (Esteemed Mr. Weber,)
  • Sehr geehrte Frau Schmidt, (Esteemed Mrs. Schmidt,)
  • Sehr geehrter Herr Professor Becker, (Esteemed Professor Schmitz,)
  • Sehr geehrte Frau Doktor Meyer, (Esteemed Doctor Freud,)
  • Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren (Dear Sir or Madam,)

For a slightly less formal greeting that would still be appropriate for most professional emails, you can use Guten Tag (Good day). For example:

  • Guten Tag Herr Müller, (Good day Mr. Müller,)
  • Guten Tag Frau Walter, (Good day Mrs. Walter,)

For an informal email

For an email outside of a formal business setting, you can use the greeting Liebe, or “dear.” Just make sure to use the correct endings for this one as well, writing Liebe for a woman and Lieber for a man.

For example:

  • Lieber Herr Wagner, (Dear Mr. Wagner,)
  • Liebe Frau Bauer, (Dear Ms. Bauer,)
  • Lieber Simon, (Dear Simon,)
  • Liebe Michelle, (Dear Michelle,)

For very informal emails, you can say Hallo! (hello), which is basically the equivalent of opening your email with “Hi!” For example, you can say

  • Hallo Emma und Paul! (Hi Emma and Paul!)
  • Hallo Marie, (Hi Marie,)

What to avoid

What’s the biggest mistake you might make with the opening? The adjective endings! Make sure you get those right.

There’s nothing worse than getting off on the wrong foot with your new boss, colleague or teacher by making a basic German mistake in the very first few words of your email.

2. The body of a German email 

For a formal email

The biggest point to remember when writing the body is to keep it formal. It’s really important to make the proper impression since Germany really is more concerned with politeness and etiquette that might seem old-fashioned to an American.

This means not using any slang vocabulary. Keep your message brief and to the point, and make sure all grammar and vocabulary are correct.

For an informal email

You have a lot more leeway with emails when you’re exchanging them with friends. In an email with a German buddy you’ve known for a while, or even with a tandem partner you’ve met with a few times, you can drop the overly formal air and use slang, emoticons, the whole nine yards.

What to avoid

Here’s a small but major difference between German emails and English emails. With German emails and letters, you don’t capitalize the first sentence after the greeting. So where in English, you would write,

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I’m writing…

In German, you would write:

Sehr geehrte Frau Jones,

ich schreibe…

Capitalizing that first word will mark you as a non-native speaker right off the bat!

3. How to end an email in German

For a formal email

These are all perfectly acceptable sign-offs for formal emails. Just make sure to pay attention to those endings!

  • Mit freundlichem Grüßen (with friendly regards)
  • Mit besten Grüßen (best regards)
  • Mit herzlichen Grüßen (with kind regards/best wishes)
  • Ihr(e) (yours) — Ihr if you’re male and Ihre if you’re female

Here are a few more ways you can close your formal email:

  • Ich bedanke mich bei Ihnen im Voraus. (I thank you in advance.)
  • Vielen Dank für Ihre schnelle Antwort. (Thank you for your quick response.)
  • Vielen Dank für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit. (Thank you for your attention.)
  • Ich würde mich freuen, bald von Ihnen zu hören. (I look forward to hearing from you soon.)

For an informal email

Friends and family in Germany typically sign emails with Viele Grüße or Liebe Grüße (both meaning “pleasant regards” or “best wishes,” basically). If you want to get really informal, you can sign off with VG or LG. I would recommend this for friends with whom you’ve corresponded a few times.

Here are a few more informal email sign-offs you can use: 

  • Alles Liebe (All the best)
  • mit Liebe (With love)
  • Dein(e) (Yours)
  • Bis bald (See you soon)

What to avoid

Germans don’t use a comma after their closing, the way you do in English. So instead of saying:

Best wishes,

You would say:


4. Useful words and phrases

For a formal email

If you’re writing a business email, you need to know the attendant vocabulary. Some email and business vocabulary includes:

  • Bcc—Empfänger hinzufügen (Bcc—add recipient)
  • Cc—Empfänger hinzufügen (Cc—add recipient)
  • Dateien anhängen (Attach files)
  • Betreff (Subject line)

Some phrases that might prove useful while writing are:

  • Es tut mir leid, dass… (I’m sorry that…)
  • Ich möchte mich bedanken (I would like to thank…)
  • Sich freuen über… (to be happy about)

For an informal email

The words and phrases you’ll use in the body of an informal email obviously depend on your purpose for writing. Maybe you want to wish someone a happy birthday, invite them somewhere or just see how they’re doing. Here are some useful phrases you can use:

  • Wie geht’s? (How’s it going?)
  • Ich würde dich genre einladen zum/zur… (I’d like to invite you to…)
  • Ich hoffe dir geht es gut. (I hope you’re doing well.)
  • Ich würde mich freuen wenn wir uns bald mal wieder treffen. (I’d love to get together soon.)
  • Alles Gute zum Geburtstag! (Happy birthday!)

What to avoid

Make sure to double-check your vocabulary and endings before you hit send. I often use dict.cc to reverse-translate some of my phrases just to be sure they make sense!

5. Grammar and level of formality

For a formal email

The grammar of your email will really be tied to whether you decide to use Sie (you – formal) or du (you – informal)—more on this below. With a formal email, you’ll want to use Sie. That means all verbs should be conjugated with Sie and any imperatives should be written in Sie form.

Remember that Sie form verbs look the same as infinitives. For example, “You write” is Sie schreiben.

For an informal email

For an informal email, you should typically use du. Again, that means that all verb conjugations and imperatives should be in du form (verbs will generally end in -st.)

There are, of course, other important grammar rules to keep in mind such as using the right German pronouns when talking about other people or things. 

What to avoid

The most common grammar mistakes in German emails are the same as in German writing and speaking in general. These include mixing up “die,” der” or “das,” choosing the wrong German case and conjugating verbs incorrectly.

Proper Etiquette for Emails in German

Before we jump into some examples of German emails, here are two important points to keep in mind while composing your email.

Sie versus du

As mentioned above, choosing to address someone as Sie or du is a tricky matter of etiquette. You may think you could play it safe and always call a person Sie, but Sie can offend people sometimes if they don’t feel they’re old enough to be addressed that way. Therefore, make sure you give proper consideration to which of these forms to use.

Lots of people who work at tech start-ups or other ultramodern institutions are more likely to use du. But you don’t want to switch to du too soon. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to call your friends du, and call your colleagues, employers and anyone of your parents’ generation Sie, unless they invite you to do otherwise.

You might make a Sie/du mistake, but that’s okay. Chances are whoever you’re emailing knows that you’re not a native German speaker and will cut you some slack. The most important thing to remember is to use the formal Sie in a professional email.

First name vs. last name

Much like with Sie and du, you’ll have to decide whether to address the person by first name or title and last name. Germany is generally a more formal society than the United States, so proceed with caution before addressing someone by their first name—unless they’ve already addressed you in that way.

The best way to figure out how to use terms of address and tricky etiquette rules is to see and hear them in context. Reading novels and other texts in German can be a huge help, and should improve your writing skills overall. 

If you learn better from audio and images, TV shows and videos in German will better help you adjust to cultural norms. You can also use a language learning program like FluentU.

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Two Examples of Emails in German

 Take a look at the following examples to see all five of these principles in action.

Sample formal email

Sehr geehrte Frau Schmidt,

ich möchte wissen, ob mein Brief angekommen ist. Haben Sie den Brief gesehen? Wenn nicht, bitte rufen Sie mich an.

Vielen Dank.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Frau Jones

Here’s the translation:

Dear Frau Schmidt,

I would like to know whether my letter has arrived. Have you seen the letter? If not, please give me a call.

Thanks very much.

Best regards,
Mrs. Jones

Sample informal email 

Hallo Tom,

wie geht’s? Ich hoffe, dass alles bei dir gut geht. Es gibt dieses Wochenende eine Party. Hast du Pläne? Du solltest kommen, wenn nicht! Bis bald.


Here’s the translation:

Hi Tom,

How’s it going? I hope everything’s good with you. There’s a party this weekend. Do you have plans? If not, you should come! See you soon.

Best wishes,


Now that you know how to write an email in German, you can conveniently stay connected with digital communication. 

With a bit of practice, you’ll be shooting off German emails with confidence and ease! 

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