Writing a letter in German: Formal Letters

Posted on 05. Apr, 2011 by in Language

Someone of you asked to explain how to write a letter in German. So, I provide a step-by-step instruction for formal letters and an example letter in this post. I guess you will find a lot of varying explanations and examples when you surf the web or look it up in books but I do assure you that will be always safe with the explanation in the following.

1) Your Address

You put your address at the top left. In the first line you can put the salutation Herr (Mr.) or Frau (Mrs.) to make obvious if you are a man or a woman. In the second line you put your full name. In the third line you put your street name followed by your house number. In the fourth line you put your zip code and town. Zip codes are always five-digit in Germany.

Frau
Gabi Müller
Musterstraße 1
12345 Berlin

 

2) Address of Recipient

You put the address of the recipient at the left underneath your address in the same order as your address. If the recipient holds a title, you put the title before the name.

Herr
Prof.  Max Schmidt
Sonnenweg 7
56789 Hamburg

 

3) Date

You put the date at the right underneath the addresses. Dates are always written in the same way in German: day/month/year. You can either write it fully as digits or alternatively you can also spell the month in full. The word den (the) is optional.

Berlin, 05.04.2011 / Berlin, den 05.04.2011

Berlin, 5. April 2011 / Berlin, den 5. April 2011

 

4) Salutation
When you know the name of the recipient:

Sehr geehrte Frau … – Dear Mrs. …

Sehr geehrter Herr … – Dear Mr. …

When you do not know the name of the recipient:

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren – Dear Sir or Madame

 

5) Greeting

Mit freundlichen Grüßen – This is the most common form of greeting for formal letters and I always use it.

 

Example Letter

die Adresse – address

die Postleitzahl – zip code

der Absender – addresser

der Empfänger – addressee; recipient

der Straßenname – street name

das Datum – date

der Tag – day

der Monat – month

das Jahr – year

die Anrede – salutation

Grußformel – (form of) greeting

 

Most of the readers of this blog are actively trying to learn German at some level.  One of the many free language resources we offer to help you is our German vocabulary builder, Byki Express. Many other language learning programs start by teaching grammar. Byki takes advantage of the fact that adults learn foreign languages most efficiently by first collecting a pool of words and phrases to draw upon. The more items you have, the easier it is to communicate.  Byki Express is free, so why not check it out?

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About Sandra

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra

12 Responses to “Writing a letter in German: Formal Letters”

  1. jason 5 April 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    ohhh its so nice website for learning german language

  2. Yellow 5 April 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Ich mochte – not with -en ending
    and Grussen – with -r- in it

  3. Marita 6 April 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    The only thing I learned differently here is that the main part of the letter always starts with a capitalized letter as opposed to a US business letter that always starts with lower case.

    It is funny that a letter starts with ‘very honored Mr. or Ms.’ – sounds old fashioned but is still used that way!

  4. lydiabenz 7 April 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    wir sagen nicht ich mochtenso wir konnen sagen ich mochte singular und nicht plural

  5. webdesign 15 April 2011 at 8:56 am #

    ya nice words

  6. george whitehead 20 April 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I took the liberty to correct your English, I hope you don’t mind…Writing a letter in German: Formal Letters
    Some of you asked how to write a letter in German. So, here is a step-by-step instruction for formal letters and an example letter. I guess you will find a lot of varying explanations and examples when you surf the web or look it up in books but, I do assure you that you will be safe with the following explanation :
    1) Your Address
    Put your address at the top left. In the first line you can put the salutation Herr (Mr.) or Frau (Mrs.) to make obvious if you are a man or a woman. In the second line you put your full name. In the third line you put your street name followed by your house number. In the fourth line you put your zip code and town. Zip codes are always five-digits in Germany.
    Frau
    Gabi Müller
    Musterstraße 1
    12345 Berlin
    2) Address of Recipient
    Put the address of the recipient on the left underneath your address in the same order as your address. If the recipient holds a title, you put it before the name.
    Herr
    Prof. Max Schmidt
    Sonnenweg 7
    56789 Hamburg
    3) Date
    Put the date on the left underneath the addresses. Dates are always written in the same way in German: day/month/year. You can either write it fully as digits or alternatively you can also spell the month in full. The word den (the) is optional.

    george

  7. Huey Parras 25 May 2012 at 3:51 am #

    Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people consider worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  8. Onkar Tripathi 31 August 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Hello Sandra,

    Your effort at teaching how to write formal letters in German is appreciated. However, in the first line of ‘main part’ of the Example Letter it should be “moechte” not “moechten”: Sorry, I dont have ‘umlaut’ on the keyboard of my laptop.

    Best,
    Onkar

  9. Sandra 3 September 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Thank you, yes that’s right. Sorry, for the typo.

    Sandra

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  12. Imaan Essop 10 June 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    sehr geehrte frau Sandra

    ich bin ein schuelerin von die Deutsche Internationale Schule in Johannesburg, Suedafrika

    ich schreibe in 2 monaten meine DSD II- damit ich in Deutschland studieren und arbeiten kann. was kann ich tun um meine schriftliche Deutsch zu verbessern?


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