French Language Blog

Writing a Letter in French Posted by on Sep 28, 2009 in Culture, Grammar, Vocabulary

Do you ever need to write a letter in French either for work, school or pleasure?  Well, today, I’m going to try to help you out a bit with this task.  First, let’s talk about a formal/business letter.  Let’s say you need to write a letter to a company asking for information.  You can put your company name and address in the top, left-hand corner.  You place the city you are writing from, a comma, and the current date in the top, right-hand corner.  About four lines down you write the name and address of the place you’re writing to again in the top, right-hand corner.  If you are writing in response or in relation to anything that has a reference number, place that reference number aligned to the left after the words “Ref.” or “Objet“.  Another four lines down, you write “Madame,” (if you’re writing to a woman) or “Monsieur,” (if you’re writing to a man) to the left.  You can write the name of the person before the comma if you know who you are writing to.  If you don’t know whether the person receiving the letter is a man or woman, you can write “Monsieur,Madame,”
Then, you indent once and begin the body of your letter.  After you finish the body of the letter, you write one of the ready-made long closings (formule de politesse) just like a paragraph.  Finally, you sign the letter aligned to the right.  If you’d like you can include your job position/written name aligned to the right just above your signature.   And that’s it!  Your letter might look something like this:

Club de Français
105, rue de la Gaité
75014 PARIS

Monsieur, Madame,

Voulez-vous avoir l’obligeance de m’envoyer une documentation sur votre club (cotisation, programme d’activités, etc.) à l’adresse suivante :

M. Sylvain BOUCHON
15, rue d’Espagne

Avec mes remerciements, veuillez agréer, Monsieur, Madame, l’expression de mes sentiments distingués.

Sylvain Bouchon

Here are some different closings you can use.  They pretty much just mean “Yours Faithfully” or “Sincerely”:
Veuillez agréer, Monsieur, l’expression de mes sentiments distingués (the most common)
Je vous prie de croire, Monsieur, à l’expression de ma vive sympathie.
(replace Monsieur with Madame in the above if writing to a woman instead of a man)

Do any of you know of another formule de politesse?  Please share with us in a comment!

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  1. lyla:

    Au Plasir! (formule de politesse)

  2. rachel:

    I love this website it tells you everything you need to know about writing a letter in french. I wrote a letter by using this website i just love it.

  3. ashleigh:

    well sick mate

  4. Debbie:

    The website has helped me to prepare adequately for my DELF A1 exams. Merci beaucoup.