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Learn How To Begin and End Your French Letters With These Helpful Examples

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 8/2/2012

The beginning and ending of French letters should be carefully studied in order to be correct according to French etiquette. The French forms are different and flowery, but then we all know that French is a beautiful language.

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    Business Letter Headings

    We all know that French is an absolutely charming language. We also know that the French are noted for their politeness. A combination of these two attributes join together to express themselves at their very best in the beginnings and endings of French correspondence.

    The heading of a business letter is straightforward. We use the well-known forms of address “Monsieur” or “Madame,” or we can write “Cher Monsieur” or “Chère Madame” to express the English equivalent of “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.” However, the phrase with which you sign off a French letter is quite elaborate.

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    The use of “veuillez” in a business letter

    You may be familiar with the verb “vouloir” to express requests or to invite someone to do something. For example: “Voulez-vous danser avec moi?” In ending French letters, the second person imperative form of this verb, which is “veuillez,” is the form that is used. Here are two examples for ending a business letter.

    1. Veuillez agréer, Monsieur/ Madame, l’assurance de mes sentiments les plus distingues.
    2. Veuillez agreer, Monsieur/Madame nos salutations distinguées.
    3. Veuillez croire, Monsieur/ madame, en nos salutations les meilleures.

    Any one of these can be used to express the English equivalent “Yours faithfully” or “Yours sincerely.”

    If you do not wish to use “veuillez”, you can also use the expression “Je vous prie…”

    Here are some examples:

    Je vous prie d’agréer mes sentiments les meilleurs

    Je vous prie d’agréer l’assurance de mes respectueuses salutations

    Je vous prie de bien vouloir recevoir, Monsieur, l’expression de mes sentiments les plus distingués.

    These all mean « Yours faithfully. »

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    Opening Lines (Business)

    After you greet the recipient of your business letter, you may need to express apology or thanks in your opening lines; for example:

    Nous accusons réception de votre lettre

    We acknowledge receipt of your letter.

    J’ai le plaisir de

    I am glad to

    J’ai le regret de

    I regret to

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    Winding up

    Just before you end your business letter, you need to wind up. You can use:

    En attendant le plaisir de vous lire

    I look forward to hearing from you

    A bientôt de vous lire

    I hope to hear from you soon

    Dans l’attente de vous lire a ce sujet, par retour

    In anticipation of hearing from you by return

    Here is a complete winding up and ending :

    Dans l’attente de votre réponse, veuillez recevoir, Cher Monsieur/Chère Madame, l’expression de mes sentiments

    Bien sincèrement(your name)

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours sincerely (your name.)

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    Friends and Relatives

    Friends and relatives

    How do we begin and end letters to friends and relatives? Here are some examples:

    Cher Michel, Chère Marie-Laure

    Dear Michel, Dear Marie-Laure

    Cher ami, Chère amie

    Dear friend

    Mon cher Jacques, Ma chère Marie

    My dear Jacques, My dear Marie

    These greetings can be followed by the following :

    Je te remercie de ta dernière lettre

    Thank you for your last letter

    J’ai été content(e) d’avoir de tes nouvelles

    I was glad to have your news

    Ta lettre m’a fait plaisir

    I was pleased to receive your letter

    J’ai bien reçu ta lettre du 23 mai

    I received your letter dated May 23rd.

    Je te présente mes excuses

    I apologize

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    Winding up

    You can wind up before ending the letter with any of the following:

    Je te quitte

    I must leave you

    Je te souhaite bonne chance

    I wish you luck

    Bonjour de ma part à ta famille

    Give my regards to your family

    Ecris-moi bientôt

    Write soon

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    Signing off

    You can then sign off with:

    Bien à toi

    Best wishes

    A bientôt

    I’ll hear from you soon

    Je t’embrasse bien fort

    With much love

    Bons baisers/Grosses bises

    Love and kisses

    Meilleurs amities

    Sincerely

    Très amicalement

    With very best wishes

    There are many other expressions which you can research. Here is a good website where you can read more about the beginning and ending of French letters, and how to write the body of a letter. Bonne chance!