How to Write a Letter in Spanish: Formal and Informal Letters [With Key Phrases]
Contrary to popular belief, snail mail isn’t dead.
Although emails are our favorite way to communicate nowadays, there are still a ton of reasons to write letters in Spanish: from responding to an invitation to your friend’s wedding in Seville, to writing an official letter to a new Mexican client.
And when you write, you want your Spanish to sound as native and natural as possible.
- Writing Letters in Spanish Made Easy
- How to Write an Informal Letter in Spanish
- How to Write a Formal Letter in Spanish
- And One More Thing…
Writing Letters in Spanish Made Easy
When writing letters in Spanish, there are heaps of greetings you can use, depending on the level of your letter’s formality.
So, the first task is to figure out the purpose of your letter. Are you writing to someone you know personally? Or are they a professional contact? Your answer determines which kind of letter you’ll write: informal or formal.
How to Write an Informal Letter in Spanish
These are letters you’d write to someone you know, and usually someone who you’d refer to as tú (informal version of “you”) in Spanish. Informal letters are casual communication, so you can use relaxed language.
Beginning an Informal Spanish Letter
To start an informal letter, you’d normally use the form of address, Querido (dear). For example:
- Querido Juan: (Dear Juan)
- Querida Ana: (Dear Ana)
The word querido/querida works like a normal Spanish adjective, so it has to agree with the gender of the person you are writing to. It also works in the plural: mis queridos amigos (my dear friends).
For very close friends, you can use queridísimo/queridísima (dearest)!
Another option is Estimado/Estimada, which you can use if you would like to address a letter to friends and acquaintances. This option is less affectionate than querido/querida, which is often reserved for family members and close friends.
- Estimado Juan: (Dear Juan)
- Estimada Ana: (Dear Ana)
Did you notice another interesting thing in the examples? They were followed by a colon, not a comma. This is the standard in Spanish. Don’t use a comma as you would in English, as it looks obviously Anglicized. And we’re aiming to write like native Spanish speakers!
Useful Phrases for Informal Spanish Letters
Once you’ve addressed the person you’re writing to, go ahead and write whatever it is you want to tell them! Here are some common phrases that might help with constructing your letter:
- Salúdame a tu familia (Say hello to your family from me/Send my regards to your family)
- Recuerdos/Saludos de parte de mi madre (My mom sends her wishes/love)
- Espero que te encuentres bien (I hope you’re well)
- Me alegró mucho recibir noticias tuyas (It was lovely to hear from you)
- Perdona que no te haya escrito antes pero… (Forgive me for not having written to you sooner, but…)
- Te agradezco mucho… (I am very grateful to you for…/Thank you so much for…)
Other than these phrases, you can put your Spanish communication skills to use and write as you’d speak to a friend.
How to End an Informal Letter in Spanish
Once you’ve written your message, you need to sign off using a friendly greeting. Some examples are below. They may seem overly affectionate compared to English, but this is normal! (Remember, people often greet each other in person with a kiss on the cheek!)
- Un fuerte abrazo (A big hug/A warm hug)
- Un beso (A kiss)
- Besos (Kisses)
- Afectuosamente (Affectionately yours)
- Con amor (With love)
- Con cariño (With affection/With love)
- Con todo mi cariño (With all my love)
- Cuídate (Take care)
Or, for people you aren’t too close to, such as a colleague, use:
- Un saludo (Regards)
- Saludos (Regards/Best regards)
P.S. One More Thing…
Need to add something to your letter after you’ve signed off? Spanish speakers use the initials P. D., which stands for posdata, from the Latin post data. This is the equivalent to P.S. in English.
And that’s it! Here you have all you need to write letters to friends and family. No more putting off writing to the friends you made while backpacking in South America!
Let’s crank it up a notch and look at more formal communications.
How to Write a Formal Letter in Spanish
Formal letters are…well, a much more formal affair!
There are conventions on how to write formal letters in Spanish, and it’s important to follow them to look professional and make a good impression.
But the great news is, once you know the guidelines and a few stock phrases, writing business and other formal letters in Spanish becomes a breeze!
Handy Hints for Formal Spanish Letters
The first rule is to use the personal pronouns usted/ustedes (formal version of you). Just like in spoken Spanish, when writing in Spanish, you use usted to demonstrate respect for the recipient. This is especially important in business communication.
Secondly, the tone and vocabulary in formal Spanish letters can feel exaggerated to a native English speaker. But it’s completely normal for the language to feel a bit “flowery.” Lean into it: this is how to write like a native speaker!
Beginning Your Formal Spanish Letter
Querido/querida is too casual for a business letter.
Formal letters have many possible openings, covering a variety of writer/recipient relationships. Let’s look at some.
- Use Estimado/Estimada (Dear) for when you know the person by name, but would address them as Señor (Mr.) or Señora (Mrs.)
e.g. Estimado Sr. García (Dear Mr. García)
Note: Always use Sra. for a formal letter to a lady, unless you’re 100% certain she prefers to be called Señorita (Miss), which is abbreviated to Srta. It can be disrespectful to get it wrong!
- If you don’t know the exact person you’re writing to, use Muy señor mío/Muy señora mía (Dear Sir/Dear Madam)
- For writing to multiple people or an institution, use Muy señores míos (Dear Sirs)
- The most formal opener is Distinguido Señor/Distinguida Señora (Distinguished Mr./Distinguished Mrs.), followed by the person’s surname if you know it.
Just like with informal letters, the opening greeting must agree in number and gender, and end with a colon.
Let’s say you’re hunting for a job in Spain. You may not know which person or department to send your résumé to, so instead use A quien corresponda or A quien interese, both of which mean “To whom it may concern,” although the first (a quien corresponda) is more commonly used.
Body of a Formal Letter
So now that you’ve addressed your reader respectfully, let’s get to the good stuff: the bulk of your letter.
While the subject and content of the letter are up to you, there are some common phrases that can help build your message. Here are a few:
- Adjunto encontrará (Please find enclosed/Enclosed you will find)
- Les escribo para informarles… (I am writing to you to inform you…)
- Por medio de la presente carta/misiva… (by means of this letter…)
- Lamento informarle (I regret to inform you)
- Le escribo en nombre de… (I’m writing to you on behalf of…)
- Le agradezco… (Thank you for…)
- Me dirijo a ustedes para solicitar mayor información sobre… (I am writing to you to ask for further information on…)
- Les ruego que me envíen… (Please send me…)
- Si tiene alguna duda, no dude en ponerse en contacto conmigo (Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me)
- Quedo a la espera de sus noticias (I look forward to hearing from you)
- Quedo a la espera de su respuesta (I look forward to your response)
- Muchas gracias de antemano por su colaboración (Thank you in advance for your help)
- Gracias por su ayuda (Thank you for your help)
- Quedo a su disposición para cualquier cosa que necesite (Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need anything else)
- Le agradecería que me informara… (I’d be grateful if you would let me know…)
Remember, the most important thing is to use the usted (formal version of “you”) form. Watch out for any tus (informal version of “you”) that might sneak in by accident!
How to End a Formal Letter in Spanish
Just as with the openers, there are a bunch of options for closing your business letter. Try to match the level of formality of your opening greeting.
Here are some examples, from least to most formal:
- Saludos (Regards)
- Un saludo cordial/Saludos cordiales (Best wishes/Kind regards)
- Atentamente (Sincerely)
- Muy atentamente/Muy cordialmente (Yours sincerely)
These endings are followed by a comma, as in English. Then sign your name, and your letter is complete!
With the tools in this post, you should feel comfortable writing to anyone about any topic.
You can write letters—whether to yourself or to native Spanish speakers—based on what you learn from other Spanish resources such as textbooks, courses or the authentic videos available on the language learning program FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Why not find someone to write to on a regular basis? There are many websites dedicated to helping language students find a partner for a pen pal arrangement. Just as your writing partner can help you in your Spanish, you can help them with their language studies!
For practice at formal communication, try writing a cover letter for a job application or writing a letter of invitation to a pretend business contact for an upcoming business trip. The options are endless!
And One More Thing…
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