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French Personal Correspondence

Writing to friends and family in French

Writing letters in French can be somewhat tricky, because it requires special formulas. In my lesson on business letters, I covered the basics on writing to a company, for both commercial and employment purposes. This lesson on personal correspondence will help you find the correct formulas when writing to family, friends, or non-commercial acquaintances.

For personal correspondence, there are just two kinds of formulas: greetings and closing formulas. The formulas you use depend on your relationship with the person you are writing to: mainly whether or not you know him/her/them personally. Also, remember to carefully consider whether to use tu or vous.

I. Greetings (you can either use the salutation alone, or the salutation + name)
Related Lessons Business letters
Politeness
Writing resources
  
A. You do not know the person
Monsieur
Monsieur xxx
Sir
Mr. xxx
Madame
Madame xxx
Mrs. xxx
Mademoiselle
Mademoiselle xxx
Miss
Miss xxx
Messieurs Sirs
  
B. You know the person
Cher Monsieur
Cher Monsieur xxx
Dear Sir
Dear Mr. xxx
Chère Madame
Chère Madame xxx
Dear Mrs. xxx
Chère Mademoiselle
Chère Mademoiselle xxx
Dear Miss
Dear Miss xxx
Chers amis Dear friends
Note

The French formulas do not always translate well into English, so I have tried to provide usable equivalents, rather than translations. 

Chers Luc et Anne Dear Luc and Anne
Chers grands-parents Dear Grandparents
Mon cher Paul My dear Paul
Mes chers amis My dear friends
Ma très chère Lise My dearest Lise
  
II. Closing formulas
   
A. To an acquaintance
Je vous envoie mes bien amicales pensées. Best wishes.
Recevez, je vous prie, mes meilleures amitiés. Yours sincerely.
Je vous adresse mon très amical souvenir. Kindest regards.
(See business letter lesson for formal closing formulas)
   
B. To a friend
Cordialement (à vous) Sincerely (yours)
Votre ami dévoué(e) Your devoted friend
Chaleureusement With warm regards
Bien amicalement In friendship  
Amitiés Best wishes, Your friend
Bien des choses à tous Best wishes to all
Note

These are not necessarily romantic in French; you can use them with friends of the same or opposite sex -
learn more

Bien à vous, Bien à toi Best wishes
À bientôt ! See you soon!
Je t'embrasse Love / With love
Bons baisers Lots of love
Bises ! Hugs and kisses
Grosses bises ! Lots of hugs and kisses
  
What goes between the greeting and closing formulas is entirely up to you! :-)

   

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