Writing Letters and Emails in German

There are many different salutations and closings used when writing letters and emails in German. Which one you choose will depend on your relationship with the person you are writing to and whether they identify as male or female. 

The appropriate salutations for German letters and emails:

Friends who write each other letters and emails may simply write Hallo Gitta, or Hallo Micha, or Hallo zusammen (if addressing a group). For this salutation, the comma comes after the name and not after Hallo as it would in longer sentences.

However, unless you are on very casual terms with someone, you will need to use formal salutations when writing an email or letter in German. Make sure you use the appropriate declension. If you have never met a person and know that the circumstances are formal, you will want to use Sehr geehrter or Sehr geehrte which literally translates as “Very honored…” If you don’t know exactly who will receive your letter, Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren is the German version of “Dear sir or madam.”

Sehr geehrte Frau Larsen, vielen Dank für Ihre Rückmeldung“.
Dear Ms. Larsen, Many thanks for your response.”

Sehr geehrter Herr Frederick“, schrieb er.
Dear Mr. Frederick,” he wrote.

Lieber or Liebe, which translates simply as “Dear,” is more flexible. It may be followed by a first name (Lieber Hans,) or a formal term of address (Liebe Frau Hoffmann,). It is used for different types of friends and acquaintances.

Lieber Jan, teile dir mit, dass es mir gut geht“.
Dear Jan, I’ll share with you that I’m doing well.

Another important thing to remember when writing letters in German is that the first word after the comma is usually not capitalized like it would be in English. 

The appropriate conclusions for German letters and emails:

When concluding your letter or email, there are a number of options. The typical closing for formal letters is Mit freundlichen Grüßen. The Schlager star Heino recently used as an album title when he covered other musicians’ songs.

Er covert auf seinem Album „Mit freundlichen Grüßen“ Rock- und Popsongs.
He covers rock and pop songs on his album “With Friendly Greetings.”

Other closings in German letters to formal acquaintances include Herzliche Grüße, (“Heartfelt greetings”) and Viele Grüße, (“Many greetings”). Between friends or informal acquaintances, Liebe Grüße, or simply Lieben Gruß, or Grüße, are more common options. 

Liebe Grüße, Elisabeth“.
Kind Regards, Elisabeth.”

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