Join GoGreen! Group Like Us on Facebook
Home » Blogs » Work Smart » How to Write a Business Email in French

How to Write a Business Email in French

By Leonie Altehülshorst

A well-written email to a client or colleague can leave a lasting positive impression. Formal correspondence is highly valued by the French and writing in a way which meets societal conventions can make it much easier to be positively received. This article will provide examples of typical expressions used in French business emails and will explain how to implement them.

Starting an email

The first thing you should think about is the most appropriate salutation. In contrast to the word Dear, which is often used in English emails, the French equivalent Cher (M)/Chère (F) – the masculine and feminine forms respectively – are only used in informal conversations among people who are close to each other. The exception is when writing an email to colleagues, Chers Collègues (Plural Form).

If you do not know the name nor the gender of the recipient, use:

  • Madame, Monsieur
  • Mesdames, Messieurs

If you know the gender but not the name, then only Madame (F) or Monsieur (M) should be used. Even if you know the recipient’s name, then Madame (F) or Monsieur (M) is still appropriate. You usually do not write the name of the recipient unless you know them quite well and have previously been in contact with the person.

After the greetings, introduce your reason for writing. For example, if you’re referring to an earlier in-person conversation with the recipient, you could begin with Suite à notre conversation | Further to our conversation, followed by nous souhaiterions savoir si | we would like to know if.

Ending an email

A French business email always ends with a formule de politesse, a closing formula. Some typical formal ending formulas are:

  • Je vous prie d’agréer, (repeat the title as you started your letter), l’expression de mes sentiments respectueux | Yours sincerely – for when writing to a supervisor
  • Je vous prie d’agréer, (repeat the title as you started your letter), l’assurance de ma considération la plus distinguée | Yours faithfully/sincerely – this is used when writing to a person in a prominent position

It’s common to add an expression before the closing formula, such as:

  • Dans l’attente de votre réponse, nous vous prions d’agréer, (repeat the title as you started your letter), l’assurance de ma considération la plus distinguée | We look forward to hearing from you, yours faithfully

The following phrases tend to be used more frequently and are also a little less formal:

  • Salutations distinguées | Yours faithfully
  • Avec nos salutations distinguées | With our best regards
  • Cordialement | Sincerely yours
  • Bien à vous | With kind regards

Useful phrases

You can embellish an email with the following common phrases:

  • In reference to your last letter | Nous nous référons par la présente à votre dernière lettre
  • Thank you for contacting me | Nous vous remercions de nous avoir contacté
  • I have a question about | J’ai une question concernant
  • To answer your question about | Pour répondre à votre question
  • I am available on | Je serai disponible le
  • We regret to inform you that | Nous regrettons de vous informer que
  • Please find attached | Veuillez trouver ci-joint
  • Please send us | Nous vous prions de bien vouloir nous faire parvenir
  • Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any further information | Nous restons à votre entière disposition pour tout renseignement complémentaire
  • Thanks in advance | Merci d’avance
  • Thank you for your time | Nous vous remercions de votre temps
  • Thank you for your understanding | Nous vous remercions de votre compréhension
  • Please let me know if that’s ok with you | Je vous prie de bien vouloir me faire savoir si cela vous convient
  • I would appreciate your help in this matter | Je serais très reconnaissant(e) de votre aide
  • I look forward to hearing from you | Dans l’attente de vous lire prochainement

Other considerations

The French language distinguishes between tu | you, and vous | you. When using you in the singular form, tu implies intimacy and informality, whereas vous is used in formal contexts – vous is always used when referring to a group, no matter the formality.

In French, the grammatical gender can be either masculine or feminine. Most nouns that express entities with a gender (people and animals) use both a feminine form and a masculine form, for instance, un chanteur (M) and une chanteuse (F) for the word singer. The feminine form often takes an ‘e’ in the end. Nouns expressing entities without gender have only one form, either masculine or feminine, such as une voiture (F) for car or un arbre (M) for tree. Plural forms of nouns are usually marked by adding ‘s’ at the end of the word, for instance, un livre becomes des livres for the word book.

Definite and indefinite articles also mark gender:

  • The | Le (M) | La (F) | Les (Plural)
  • A | Un (M) | Une (F) | Des (Plural)

It is important to note that the French language contains many exceptions to these general rules.

Bringing it all together – an example email

    Bonjour Monsieur,

    Suite à notre conversation téléphonique, je vous envoie les documents demandés. Veuillez trouver ci-joint le catalogue de nos produits ainsi qu’une liste de nos prix actuellement en vigueur. Pour répondre à votre question concernant nos conditions générales de livraison, je peux vous assurer que toute commande sera livrée dans un délai maximal d’un mois.

    Si vous avez encore d’autres questions, nous restons à votre entière disposition pour tout renseignement complémentaire.

    Nous vous prions d’agréer, Monsieur, l’assurance de notre considération la plus distinguée.

    Alex

    Dear Mr. Smith

    Following our telephone conversation, I have enclosed the requested documents. Please find attached the product catalogue along with our current price list. In response to your question concerning our general terms and conditions of delivery, I can assure you that any order will be delivered within one month.

    If you have any further questions, we remain at your disposal for any additional information.

    Yours sincerely,
    Alex

The expressions contained in this article represent only some of the many options for writing a French business email, but they can serve as an orientation towards meeting French conventions and avoiding miscommunication.

Bonne chance! 

Check Also

Save the Date: Foodfirst Conference

The registration for Team Up with African Agripreneurs is open! ‘Team up’ on 1 June …