Writing Informal Letters in French

Correct greetings and closings are key

Writing a letter

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Writing letters in French can be somewhat tricky because they require particular opening and closing conventions. Following some basic rules of French etiquette and grammar will help you find the correct expressions to use when writing to family, friends, or acquaintances.

Following Conventions

For personal correspondence, there are two important conventions in French letters: greetings and closings. The expressions you use depend on your relationship with the person you are writing to, particularly whether you know her personally. Also, consider whether to use tu or vous—tu is the familiar "you," while vous is the formal greeting for "you" in French.

Remember that these French expressions do not always translate well into English. These are usable equivalents, rather than literal translations. Following are possible greetings and closings you can use, depending on whether you know the person.


You can use these greetings either by themselves or with the salutation followed by the person's name. The greeting in French is listed on the left, while the English translation is on the right. French greetings can be particularly tricky. For example, the French title Mademoiselle—literally "my young lady"—has long been used to distinguish between women, whether due to their age or marital status. Shopkeepers and bank clerks always greet female customers with a polite Bonjour, Mademoiselle or Bonjour, Madame. But in a letter, you have to assess the woman's age in order to choose the correct term, and that can prove challenging.

You Do Not Know the Person​
Monsieur xxx
Mr. xxx
Madame xxx
Mrs. xxx
Mademoiselle xxx
Miss xxx


You Do 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
Chers Luc et Anne Dear Luc and Anne
Chers grandsparents Dear Grandparents
Mon cher Paul My dear Paul
Mes chers amis My dear friends
Ma très chère Lise My dearest Lise


Closings in French letters can also be tricky, even in personal missives. To help you craft your closing correctly, the following chart uses the same conventions as the previous one: The closing is listed in French on the left, while the translation is on the right.

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


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
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


These latter expressions—such as "Bons baisers (Lots of love) and Bises! (Hugs and kisses)—might seem too informal in English. But, such closings are not necessarily romantic in French; you can use them with friends of the same or opposite sex.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "Writing Informal Letters in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, thoughtco.com/writing-personal-letters-in-french-4058120. Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Writing Informal Letters in French. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/writing-personal-letters-in-french-4058120 Team, ThoughtCo. "Writing Informal Letters in French." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/writing-personal-letters-in-french-4058120 (accessed March 27, 2023).