Working on an important Spanish email right now?
Preparing to work abroad in the Spanish-speaking world?
Wherever you’re at, we’ve got you covered.
That’s all well and good, but you’ve forgotten one not-so-tiny thing.
Writing in Spanish.
That’s right. Writing in Spanish, as a whole, tends to slip through the cracks when studying the language.
It’s not just about writing emails, either—there’s a whole world of Spanish text slang to get your head around, which will help you communicate well with friends and acquaintances on a daily basis. While slang is what you’ll need to get chatting with your buds on Facebook or Twitter, what do you do when you have to write a formal email to someone you don’t know?
The answer isn’t to panic.
We’ve got just the thing.
Why You’ve Gotta Learn to Write Formal Emails in Spanish
Learning how to write formal emails in Spanish is an incredibly useful skill. Here’s why:
1. You never know when you might need it.
Who knows when you’ll need to write to someone you don’t know? When you do send that email, you’ll want to get the tone right so whoever receives it won’t be put off about corresponding with you or actually meeting you.
2. It can help you get a job.
What if one day you see the job of your dreams…in Spanish? You’ll need to write a formal letter to apply for that job, and you may even need to translate your CV into Spanish.
3. It might help you keep the job you’ve already got.
If you’ve already got a job where you need to speak Spanish, it’s likely there will be some degree of writing involved. Learning how to address your colleagues appropriately, make requests and ask polite questions could be the thing that keeps you employed. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
4. You don’t want to sound rude.
There’s nothing worse than messing up something important just because you worded a phrase the wrong way, or called someone querido instead of estimado. While you might assume you can get away with making mistakes because you’re “still learning,” you should try not to use that as an excuse to be lazy.
5. Writing can help consolidate the Spanish you’ve already learned.
Seeing the Spanish you’ve already mastered on the page is a great way to consolidate your learning and revise all the things you’ve already got your head around. It’s a good way to experiment with new language and deciphering the replies you get back is also fantastic reading practice.
Convinced? Desperate to know how to achieve this wonderful state of politeness?
Just keep reading.
How to Write a Wonderfully Polite Formal Email In Spanish
We’ve finally arrived. It’s time to learn how to put together that Spanish email. To make things easily, we’re going to break everything down into major components.
Starting Your Formal Spanish Email
If you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to, you should start your letter with:
A quien corresponda:
(to whom it may concern:)
If you know the name but still don’t have enough of a relationship to use the person’s first name (i.e., it’s probably the first time you’re writing to this person), you can say: Estimada/o plus the person’s title and surname. Estimada/o translates to “esteemed.”
So if you’re writing to Señor José Pérez, you would write Estimado Señor Pérez, and if you’re writing to Mrs. Pérez it would be Estimada Señora Pérez.
Note that you need to change the last letter of estimado according to whether you’re writing to a man or woman.
Another thing to remember is that after the name you need a colon, instead of the comma used in English. Just take a look at the following line to see a demonstration.
Estimado Señor Pérez:
(Dear Mr. Pérez:)
Also useful to know is that sometimes Señor, Señora and Señorita are abbreviated to Sr., Sra. and Srta., respectively. Doctor abbreviated would be Dr. for a man, but you’ll use Dra. for the female Doctora.
Once you’ve established a relationship with someone but still want to keep things quite formal, you can start your letter with Querido/querida (Dear) and the person’s first name. For example, you may begin with something like “Querido José:”
Reason for writing
Once you’ve gotten past saying hello, you’ll need to explain who you are and why you’re writing. You’ll probably start your email with:
Mi nombre es____.
(My name is____.)
You should write your full name here.
You might also add something about your position or the organization you’re working for. For example, if you were a teacher writing to a parent you haven’t yet met, you might say:
Mi nombre es Claire Stone y soy la profesora de su hijo John.
(My name is Claire Stone and I’m your son John’s teacher.)
If you’re writing on behalf of an organization or another person, you could say:
Escribo de parte de____.
(I’m writing on behalf of____.)
You need to also explain why you’re writing your email. So, you could say something like: Le escribo para organizar una reunion para hablar sobre John (I’m writing to organize a meeting so that we can talk about John). Poor John. It sounds like he’s in trouble.
The meat of the email
Now that you’ve introduced yourself and said why you’re writing, you’ll need to write the body or “meaty part” of your email. This part varies greatly depending on what your email is about, but here are some guidelines to help you keep your writing formal:
1. Try to use formal language.
Writing formally means using conditionals, especially to ask polite questions and requests such as quería saber si ustedes estarían disponibles para hablar el miércoles (I wanted to know if you would be available to talk on Wednesday).
2. Don’t use slang.
Avoid the use of slang, idiom or abbreviations. FYI (PTI, para tu información), emoticons and text speak such as PQ instead of porque are definitely not appropriate in a formal email. LOL.
3. Use the formal “you.”
Use usted or ustedes to address your reader. You might adopt a more informal tone after one or two emails, but it’s best to keep things formal at the beginning and follow the example of the person who’s writing to you.
Ending your formal email
It’s a good idea to finish your email with a finishing sentence. This might be something like:
Cualquier cosa estoy a su disposición.
(I am available should you have any questions.)
Espero su respuesta.
(I await your reply.)
You should then end with a final greeting, such as:
Saludos cordiales/Un saludo cordial
(cordial greetings—this is more formal than the first option)
Le saludo atentamente
(I attentively send greetings—this is even more formal)
Muchas gracias por su ayuda/tiempo
(Thank you for your help/time)
Gracias y saludos
(Thank you and greetings)
Got all that? Still haven’t found the specific phrase you’re looking for? Here’s a list of common phrases and vocabulary you’ll need for three types of formal email.
We’re now going to assume that you’re NOT Miss Stone writing about your poor pupil John, but instead that you’re writing an email of application, asking for information, inviting someone to something or saying whether or not you can attend an event.
Writing to apply for a job? Pepper your Spanish email with these phrases:
Quisiera postularme para el puesto de_____anunciado en_____el día_____.
(I wanted to apply for the post of_____, advertised in_____on_(date)_.)
Actualmente estoy trabajando para_____y mis responsabilidades incluyen_____.
(At the moment I’m working for_____and my responsibilities include_____.)
Tengo experiencia con_____.
(I have experience with_____.)
Como pueden ver en mi currículum, mi experiencia y capacidades encajan con los requisitos de este puesto.
(As you can see from my resume, my experience and skills fit the requisites for this job.)
Me gustaría saber más sobre el puesto, en particular_____.
(I would like to know more about the position, in particular_____.)
Seen something you want to know more about? Include these phrases in your email:
Me interesa mucho_____y quisiera saber más sobre_____.
(I’m very interested in_____and I would like to know more about_____.)
¿Podría darme más información sobre_____?
(Could you give me some more information about_____?)
Quería saber los horarios y los costos del_____.
(I would like to know the timetable and cost of_____.)
How to send or accept Spanish invitations. Want to invite someone to a formal event? Or to accept their invitation? Try these:
Queremos invitarle formalmente a formar parte de nuestro evento_____que se llevará a cabo el día_____a las_____.
(We would like to formally invite you to take part in our event_____, which will take place on_____at_____.)
Muchas gracias por su invitación. Estaré encantada de asistir.
(Thank you for your invitation. I will attend with pleasure.)
Estoy muy agradecida pero lamentablemente no voy a poder asistir debido a_____.
(I thank you for your invitation, but unfortunately I will not be able to attend due to_____.)
So there you have it, you’ve got no excuses not to reply to that email you’ve just received! Or to apply for that job!
Wait, One More Thing!
If you enjoyed learning how to write emails like a legit native Spanish speaker, you’re going to love FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people. There’s tons of content which demonstrates natural interactions between native speakers, both formal and informal.
Beyond this, FluentU has a wide variety of videos, covering topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly.
Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
As you can see, FluentU isn’t just for watching videos. It’s a unique language learning program designed to get you to total Spanish mastery, complete with active learning tools like vocabulary lists, multimedia flashcards and more.
Even the flashcards have something special to offer learners—they integrate video clips, imagery and audio to create rich, memorable learning experiences and help you retain Spanish vocabulary better than ever.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned.
Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
So, whenever you’re ready to press “fast forward” on your Spanish progress, click on over. Use the FluentU website on your computer or tablet, or, better yet, download the FluentU App for iPad and iPhone from the iTunes store.
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