Whether you’re writing a letter to a Spanish-speaking friend or preparing a formal business letter, the greetings and salutations in this lesson can help give your letters credibility.
Greetings to Use in Writing a Letter
In English, it is common to begin both personal letters and business correspondence with “Dear ___.” In Spanish, however, there is more variation depending on how formal you want to be.
In personal correspondence, the equivalent of “dear” is querido or querida (the past participle of querer), depending on the sex of the person. Querido is used for a male recipient, querida for a female; plural forms queridos and queridas can also be used. In Spanish, it is the rule to follow the greeting with a colon rather than the comma used in English. Use of a comma is seen as an Anglicism.
- Querido Roberto: (Dear Roberto,)
- Querida Ana: (Dear Ana,)
- Queridos Juan y Lisa: (Dear Juan and Lisa,) Note that in Spanish the masculine form, queridos, is used if the recipients include people of both sexes.
However, querido is too casual for business correspondence, especially when you aren’t a friend of the recipient. Use estimado or estimada instead. The word literally means “esteemed,” but it is understood the same way as “dear” would be in English:
- Estimado Sr. Rodríguez: (Dear Mr. Rodríguez,)
- Estimada Sra. Cruz: (Dear Mrs./Ms. Cruz,)
- Estimada Srta. González: (Dear Miss González,)
Spanish doesn’t have a true equivalent of the English courtesy title Ms. (and in Spanish, the distinction between señora and señorita, traditionally translated as “Mrs.” and “Miss,” respectively, can be one of age rather than marital status). It normally is fine to use the courtesy title of Sra. (the abbreviation for señora) if you don’t know whether a female recipient of the letter is married. Good advice is to use Sra. unless you know the woman prefers Srta.
If you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to, you can use the following formats:
- Muy señor mío: (Dear sir,)
- Estimado señor: (Dear sir,)
- Muy señora mía: (Dear madam,)
- Estimada señora: (Dear madam,)
- Muy señores míos: (Dear sirs, dear sirs/madams,)
- Estimados señores: (Dear sirs, dear sirs/madams,)
The Spanish equivalent of “to whom it may concern” is a quien corresponda (literally, to the one responsible).
Closings to Use in Writing a Letter
In English, it is common to end a letter with “Sincerely.” Again, Spanish offers a greater variety.
Although the following closings for personal letters may sound overly affectionate to English speakers, they are quite commonly used:
- Un abrazo (literally, a hug)
- Un fuerte abrazo (literally, a strong hug)
- Cariñosos saludos (roughly, kind regards)
- Afectuosamente (affectionately)
The following are common with close friends or family members, although there are many others that can be used:
- Besos y abrazos (literally, kisses and hugs)
- Besos (literally, kisses)
- Con todo mi cariño (with all my caring)
- Con todo mi afecto (with all my affection)
In business correspondence, the most common ending, used in much the same way as “sincerely” in English, is atentamente. That can also be expanded to le saluda atentamente or les saluda atentamente, depending on whether you’re writing to one or more persons, respectively. A more casual ending that can be used in business letters is Cordialmente. Longer salutations include saludos cordiales and se despide cordialmente. Although this language may sound flowery to English speakers, it is not unusual in Spanish.
If you are expecting a response from a business correspondent, you can close with esperando su respuesta.
As is common in English, the salutation is typically followed by a comma.
If you’re adding a postscript (posdata in Spanish), you can use P.D. as the equivalent of “P.S.”
Sample Personal Letter
¡Mil gracias por el regalo! Es totalmente perfecto. ¡Fue una gran sorpresa!
Eres una buena amiga. Espero que nos veamos pronto.
Thanks a lot for the gift! It’s totally perfect. It was quite a surprise!
You’re a great friend. I hope we see each other soon.
Lots of hugs,
Sample Business Letter
Estimado Sr. Fernández:
Gracias por la propuesta que usted y sus colegas me presentaron. Creo que es posible que los productos de su compañía sean útiles para minimizar nuestros costos de producción. Vamos a estudiar la propuesta meticulosamente.
Espero poder darle una respuesta en un plazo de dos semanas.
Dear Mr. Fernández,
Thank you for the proposal that you and your colleagues presented to me. I believe it is possible that your company’s products could be useful for reducing our production costs. We are going to study the proposal thoroughly.
I hope I can give you a response within two weeks.