Writing Letters in French to Friends and Family

The Right Ways to Begin and End Your Personal Letters

Writing Letter
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Writing letters in French can be somewhat tricky, because it requires particular opening and closing conventions. This article on personal correspondence will help you find the correct expressions to use when writing to family, friends, or non-commercial acquaintances.

For personal correspondence, there are two important conventions: greetings and closing. The expressions 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 consider whether to use tu or vous.

Remember that these French expressions do not always translate well into English. These are usable equivalents, rather than literal translations. 

What goes between the greeting and the closing is entirely up to you!

I.Greetings (you can either use the salutation alone, or the salutation + name) 
    
 A.You do not know the person
  Monsieur
Monsieur xxx
Sir
Mr. xxx
Madame
Madame xxx
Mrs. xxx
Mademoiselle
Mademoiselle xxx
Miss
Miss xxx
MessieursSirs 
      
 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 amisDear friends 
Chers Luc et AnneDear Luc and Anne
Chers grands-parentsDear Grandparents
Mon cher PaulMy dear Paul
Mes chers amisMy dear friends
Ma très chère LiseMy dearest Lise
    
II.Closing conventions
      
 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 conclusions)
       
 B.To a friend 
  Cordialement (à vous)Sincerely (yours)
Votre ami dévoué(e)Your devoted friend
ChaleureusementWith warm regards
Bien amicalementIn friendship 
AmitiésBest wishes, Your friend
Bien des choses à tousBest wishes to all 
Bien à vous, Bien à toiBest wishes
À bientôt !See you soon!
Je t'embrasseLove / With love
Bons baisersLots of love
Bises !Hugs and kisses
Grosses bises !Lots of hugs and kisses
      

These latter expressions are not necessarily romantic in French; you can use them with friends of the same or opposite sex.