Letter Writing in German is an important writing skill which one should acquire. Below is a guide to make German letter writing easy for you. We will also be sharing a few German letter writing examples for you as well as some useful vocabulary for letter writing in German.
Last month, we hosted a letter writing contest and got a very good response for the same. For those who lost or felt that they could improve their letter writing skills, this article is for you. This article will immensely help you in your Schreiben module in the German exams.
Memorize the format for letter writing in German
The main elements of a letter are the place, date, salutation, text segment, closing lines, closing and the signature. Different salutations and closings are used for formal and informal letter writing in German. We will talk more about it shortly.
German A1 Level Formal Letter Example
In the example below, a person from Poland is writing a letter to know more about Dresden. He wants to know details about museums and hotels since he will be there for 4 days. He also needs the hotel to be near the station for convenience.
How to write a Formal Letter in German
Place, Date Segment – Format for writing place and date in formal letters
Place translates to “der Ort” in German, date translates to “das Datum” and day translates to “der Tag” in German.
In the above example, we have written the place and date in the top right corner. You have to write the place first and after a comma, you can continue writing the date. We follow the mm.dd.yyyy format to write the date. If you observe, we have used the accusative “den” before the date. Click here to learn more about the accusative case.
Salutation Segment – When to use these salutations in German formal letter writing scenarios
Salutation translates to “die Anrede” in German. A salutation is a greeting used in a letter.
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren
This salutation is used when you barely know the individuals you are writing to. It means Dear Sir or/and Madam. When you have no idea who you are writing to, you can use this salutation.
Sehr geehrter Herr Schmidt
In a formal situation, when you know the name of the male individual you are writing to, you can use this salutation. Notice how we use geehrter here because of the German cases.
Sehr geehrte Frau Schmidt
In a formal situation, when you know the name of the female individual you are writing to, you can use this salutation. Notice how we use geehrte here because of the German cases.
Sehr geehrte Herren
When you want to write to two male persons but don’t know their names, you can use this salutation.
Sehr geehrte Damen
When you want to write to two female persons but don’t know their names, you can use this salutation.
Sehr geehrter Herr Professor Schmidt
In this case, you are writing a formal letter to your professor, Mr. Schmidt. In such cases you can also mention the profession in the salutation.
Sehr geehrte Frau Doktor
Another case of writing the profession as a part of the salutation is this one. If you are writing to your doctor, you can use this salutation.
This translates to “Dear valued business partners”. If you are writing to your business partners, you can use this salutation.
Sehr geehrte Frau Kollegin
To write to your female colleague, you can use this salutation.
Sehr geehrter Herr Kollege
To write to your male colleague, you can use this salutation.
Text Segment – Tips to write formal German letters explained
Always start the opening word of the text segment in lower case
This is not really a tip, but a note. Did you observe in the above example how we started the letter with “ich möchte im August Dresden besuchen” but not “Ich möchte im August Dresden besuchen“? The reason is that our sentence actually starts with “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,”. Post the comma, we should start the words with small letters and not capital letters. Hence we use ich, but not Ich.
Use the “Sie” form
Depending on the context of the letter, use the appropriate formal language. Like we explained in “100+ Important Business German Words, Phrases and Sentences”, use the formal “Sie” form and not the “du” form of pronouns while writing. Sie (Ihr, Ihnen, Ihre)
Use the “Konjunktiv II” or the “K2” form as needed. It makes the sentence even more polite.
English: Please try the following.
German without K2: Probieren Sie Folgendes.
German with K2: Wäre es möglich, dass Sie Folgendes probieren?
Closing and Signature Segment – How to end formal German letters
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
This means ‘sincerely yours or sincere regards’. People also use MfG as a short form these days. This is one of the most frequently used closing lines.
The meaning of this closing line is ‘best regards’.
Mit herzlichen Grüßen
The meaning of this closing line is ‘with kind regards’.
On the Envelope
An Frau Schmidt / An Herr Schmidt
If you are directly handing out the letter to someone personally, you can add the name of the person on the envelope.
An die Firma ___
To address the company name, you can write the this.
Posting the Letter
The Deutsche Post website has some important tips regarding posting of letters and postcards.
Only write on the front of the envelope.
Position the sender address at the top left, and recipient address at the bottom right.
Stamps or other forms of franking, top right.DEUTSCHE POST
This was all about formal letter writing in German. Keep coming back to our blog for more. Check out our Instagram for more updates.