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How To Write Email in German: A Comprehensive Guide

6 months ago
Reading time : 5 minutes
To sum up

  1. Introduction to Email Writing in German
  2. The Distinction: Formal vs. Informal Emails
  3. Starting Off: Greetings and Salutations
  4. Crafting the Body: Useful Phrases and Tips
  5. Signing Off: Concluding an Email in Style
  6. Common Mistakes to Avoid
  7. FAQs about Email Writing in German
Dive deep on writing an email in German: How to write formal and informal email, greetings, how to end an email in german and tips to write with native speakers.

How To Write Email in German: A Comprehensive Guide

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Introduction to Email Writing in German

Email communication is an integral part of our daily lives. Whether it's for business, academics, or personal reasons, the ability to convey a message effectively is crucial. When it comes to writing an email in German, there are specific nuances and conventions that one must be aware of - especially when you learn German freshly. This guide aims to provide insights into the art to write emails in German, ensuring that you leave a lasting impression on your recipients. So when you are language learning, or just don't know how to write a formal and informal email in german, this is exactly for you! 

  1. Greeting: Start your email with a formal greeting. In German, the most common way to address someone is by using "Sehr geehrte(r)" followed by the recipient's last name. For example, "Sehr geehrte Frau Müller" (Dear Ms. Müller) or "Sehr geehrter Herr Schmidt" (Dear Mr. Schmidt).
  2. Subject line: Keep your subject line concise and relevant to the content of your email. It helps the recipient understand the purpose of your email at a glance. For example, "Einladung zur Besprechung am 15. Juli" (Invitation to the meeting on July 15th) or "Anfrage bezüglich des Praktikums" (Inquiry regarding the internship).
  3. First Sentence: Begin the body of your email with a polite and friendly salutation. "Sehr geehrte(r)" can be used again, or you can use "Liebe(r)" if you have a closer relationship with the recipient. For example, "Liebe Frau Müller" (Dear Ms. Müller) or "Lieber Herr Schmidt" (Dear Mr. Schmidt).
  4. Introduction: Start your email by introducing yourself if the recipient doesn't know you well. Mention your name, your purpose for writing the email, and any relevant details. For example, "Mein Name ist Anna Meier. Ich schreibe Ihnen bezüglich der Stellenausschreibung in Ihrem Unternehmen" (My name is Anna Meier. I am writing to you regarding the job opening in your company).
  5. Body content: Clearly and concisely express the main purpose of your email. Use simple and direct language. Provide any necessary details or information and structure your email in paragraphs to make it easier to read. Be aware of the formal or informal language depending on the recipient and the context.
  6. Polite requests: If you need to make a request, use polite language and phrase it as a question or a favor rather than a demand. For example, "Würden Sie bitte die Anhänge überprüfen und mir Ihr Feedback geben?" (Would you please review the attachments and provide me with your feedback?).
  7. Closing: End your email with a polite and friendly closing phrase. Common phrases in German include "Mit freundlichen Grüßen" (Kind regards) or "Viele Grüße" (Best regards). Sign off with your full name.
  8. Attachments: If you need to attach files, mention it in your email and specify the number and type of attachments. For example, "Ich habe Ihnen drei Dateien als Anhang beigefügt" (I have attached three files for your reference).
  9. Proofread: Before sending your email, proofread it for any grammatical or spelling errors. Pay attention to the proper use of nouns, verbs, and articles, which are essential in German.
    10. Formality 

Write an email in German: Formal vs. Informal Emails

In German, the distinction between formal and informal communication is more pronounced than in many other languages. This distinction is primarily marked by the use of "Sie" for formal and "du" for informal contexts.

Formal Email (Geschäftliche E-Mail): Used in business settings, with superiors, or when addressing someone you don't know well. The tone is respectful, and the language is more structured.

Informal Email (Informelle E-Mail): Used among friends, family, and peers. The tone is casual, and the language can be more relaxed.

Example: Learn how to write a formal E-Mail in German:

Sehr geehrter Herr Schmidt,
Ich möchte mich für Ihr Gespräch am vergangenen Montag bedanken. Es war wirklich informativ und hilfreich. Es wäre schön, wenn wir uns wieder über einige ungeklärte Punkte treffen könnten. Ich werde alle erforderlichen Unterlagen und Berichte bereitstellen.
Ich freue mich auf unser nächstes Gespräch.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
[Your Name]

Example: Learn how to write an informal E-Mail in German:

Hallo Franz,
es war schön, dich letzte Woche zu sehen. Ich hoffe, es geht dir gut. Ich dachte daran, nächste Woche einen Grillabend bei mir zu organisieren. Ich hoffe, du kannst kommen! Lass es mich wissen, wenn du freie Zeit hast, und ich kann den Rest der Leute auch wissen lassen.
Bis bald,
[Your Name] 

How To Write Email In German: Greetings and Salutations

When you write a letter the tone for the entire message. Here are some common greetings based on the formality:

Formal Greetings:

  • Sehr geehrter Herr [Last Name] (Dear Mr. [Last Name])
  • Sehr geehrte Frau [Last Name] (Dear Mrs./Ms. [Last Name])

Informal Greetings:

  • Hallo [First Name] (Hello [First Name])
  • Lieber [First Name] (Dear [First Name] - for males)
  • Liebe [First Name] (Dear [First Name] - for females)

Common Salutations:

  • For Business:
    • Viele Grüße (Best Regards)
    • Mit freundlichen Grüßen (Kind Regards)
  • For Friends/Family
    • Herzliche Grüße (Warm Regards)
    • Liebe Grüße (Love, or With Love) 

English and German: Write a Letter in German for a Birthday Party

Subject: Einladung zu meiner Geburtstagsfeier (Invitation to my Birthday Party)Hallo Hans,
Ich hoffe, es geht dir gut. Ich schreibe dir, um dich zu meiner Geburtstagsfeier einzuladen. Die Party findet nächsten Samstag bei mir zu Hause statt. Ich hoffe, du kannst kommen.
Lass mich bitte wissen, ob du kommen kannst.
Liebe Grüße,
[Your First Name]

Translation:
Subject: Invitation to my Birthday Party 
Hello Hans,
I hope you're doing well. I'm writing to invite you to my birthday party. The party is next Saturday at my place. I hope you can come.
Please let me know if you can come.
With Love,
[Your First Name] 

Body of the Email: Phrases For Writing An Email

Whether you're writing a business email or a casual note to a friend, having a repertoire of a first sentence after the greeting can be invaluable.

We are here to help you learn how to write emails and what useful phrases for writing are necessary to write like a native:

Formal Phrases:

  • Ich schreibe Ihnen bezüglich... (I am writing to you regarding...)
  • Ich möchte Sie darüber informieren, dass... (I would like to inform you that...)
  • Könnten Sie bitte... (Could you please...)

Informal Phrases:

  • Wie geht's dir? (How are you?)
  • Lange nicht gesprochen! (Long time no talk!)
  • Ich wollte dir nur schnell sagen... (I just wanted to quickly tell you...)
  • When you're addressing a group of people: Wir möchten Sie alle darüber informieren, dass... (We would all like to inform you that...)
  • Es ist eine Weile her, seit wir uns das letzte Mal unterhalten haben! (It's been a while since we last talked!)
  • Wir hoffen, dass es Ihnen gut geht... (We hope you are doing well...)
  • Wir wollten Sie nur schnell informieren, dass... (We just wanted to quickly inform you that...)
  • Könnten Sie bitte alle... (Could you all please...)
  • Ich wollte euch nur alle wissen lassen... (I just wanted to let you all know...) 

End of the Email: Concluding A German Formal Email

Your sign-off is the final touch to your email. Here are some common ways to end an email in german:

Formal Sign-offs for letter writing:

  • Mit freundlichen Grüßen (Kind regards)
  • Hochachtungsvoll (Yours sincerely)

Less Formal way to Sign off an email:

  • Viele Grüße (Many greetings)
  • Bis bald! (See you soon!) Herzliche Grüße (Warm regards)
  • Liebe Grüße (Best wishes)
  • Mit bestem Dank im Voraus (With best thanks in advance)
  • Bleiben Sie gesund (Stay healthy) 

When using these, ensure it is appropriate to the content of your email. Following your sign-off, you usually write your name. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid to present good language skills

  • Overusing "Sie" or "du": Ensure you're consistent with your formality throughout the email.
  • Forgetting the Umlauts: Words like "grüßen" and "für" have specific meanings with their umlauts.
  • Direct Translations: Phrases in English might not have the same impact or meaning when directly translated to German.
  • Ignoring Capitalization: In German, all nouns are capitalized.
  • Improper Salutations and Sign Offs: Familiarize yourself with appropriate and professional German email etiquette.
  • Mistaking Gendered Words: German has masculine, feminine, and neutral nouns. Use the correct articles (der, die, das).
  • Confusing the Word Order: German grammar has strict rules on word order, particularly with regards to the position of the verb.
  • Not Proofreading: Always double check your email for any mistakes or awkward phrasing before sending.
  • Using Casual Phrases in Formal Emails: Keep your language professional and appropriate for the situation when writing business emails.
  • Overcomplicating Sentences: Long, complex sentences can be harder to understand, try to maintain simplicity and clarity.
  • Assuming Vocabulary: Do not assume that the recipient of the email will understand complex German words or phrases that are not commonly used.
  • Not Being Polite Enough: In German, it's important to be respectful and polite, especially in formal contexts.
  • Overuse of English Words: Many English words do not have an exact equivalent in German, hence their overuse could lead to confusion.
  • Avoiding Native German phrases: There are specific sayings and idioms that Germans use in their professional communications. Using them appropriately can help to sound more natural and professional. 

FAQs start an email in german

Q: How do I start an email in formal German?

A: You typically start a business email with "Sehr geehrte Frau [Surname]," or "Sehr geehrter Herr [Surname].” For a less formal email, you can begin with "Hallo [First name],”.

Q: How do I end an email in German?

A: Business emails are typically ended with "Mit freundlichen Grüßen," followed by your name. For less formal emails, "Viele Grüße," or "Liebe Grüße," can be used.

Q: How do I write the subject line when the email recipient is german?

A: In a professional email, the subject line should be concise and specific, similar to English emails. Make sure to capitalize all nouns, as it's required in German grammar.

Q: What is the German equivalent for "Dear…"?

A: The German equivalent for "Dear…" is "Liebe…" for women and "Lieber…" for men when addressing informally. In a formal context, use "Sehr geehrte Frau…" for women and "Sehr geehrter Herr…" for men.

Q: How important is it to be formal in a German professional email?

A: It is very important to maintain formality in a German business email, especially when communicating with superiors or people you’re not on familiar terms with. Germans place a high value on professionalism and respect in their communications. 

Q: How do I ask for a response in a German email?

A: You can politely close your email with "Ich würde mich über eine rasche Antwort freuen," meaning "I would appreciate a swift reply." 

Q: When to decide whether to address "Sie" or "du"?

A: Use "Sie" in formal settings or when addressing someone older or of higher status. "du" is used among peers, friends, and family.

Q: How do I address a native speaker in a formal society?

A: Always use their last name with the appropriate title (Herr for men, Frau for women).

Q: What's the difference between "e-mail" and "E-Mail" in German?

A: In German, "E-Mail" is the correct term, with a capital "E" and a hyphen.

Mastering the art of email writing in German can seem daunting, but with practice and the right tools, you'll be communicating effectively in no time. Whether you're reaching out to a business associate or penning a note to a dear friend, understanding the nuances of the German language will ensure your message is received with the clarity and respect it deserves.