Learning how to write a formal letter in Chinese is a very useful skill. Whether this be for a homework assignment or you’re applying for a job in China, this article will hopefully be handy!
We’ll be sharing with you some tips and tricks for letters in Chinese, complete with some examples and useful key words and sentences to include.
The biggest takeaway for writing letters is to always be formal and use the correct Chinese punctation marks such as,“。”for a full stop, “？ ”for a question mark,“！”for exclamations, “，”for a comma “、” and as a comma when listing nouns.
In order to sound polite and respectful, many Chinese letters begin with “尊敬的… (zūn jìng de)” which is the equivalent to saying “Dear…”. Although the literal translation of
“尊敬的…” is “respectable” it is most commonly used in this way.
As with English, following “尊敬的…” it is best to add the person’s surname followed by “Ms.” 女士 (nǚ shì) or “Mr.” 先生 (xiān sheng).
For example, 尊敬的王女士 (zūn jìng de wáng nǚ shì) – which means Dear Ms. Wang.
Some other formal titles are:
- 同事 (tóng shì) = “Co-worker.”
- 总经理 (zǒng jīng lǐ) sometimes shortened to “总.” = “President” or “Manager.”
- 经理 (jīng lǐ) = “Manager.” (a less superior rank than “总经理”)
- 领导 (lǐng dǎo) = “Leader.”
- 老师 (lǎo shī) = “Teacher.”
Another way to open the letter, is to start with “致 (zhì)” which is the equivalent to saying “To”. This is a more direct opening, and it is often used in letters when addressing an entire department. For example, if your writing to a University – you can write 致: 浙江大学国际教育学院 (zhì zhè jiāng dà xué guó jì jiào yù xué yuàn) – To: Zhejiang University International College.
Alternatively, if you do not know who will be reading the letter, you can write the company’s or organization names followed by 的相关负责人 (de xiāng guān fù zé rén). This refers to the company’s “related staff/decision makers” and is similar to “To whom it may concern”.
After you choose as to how to address the person or company, it also might be a good idea to add a small greeting such as 您好 (nín hǎo) which is a polite way to say hello.
For example, 尊敬的王女士您好 (zūn jìng de wáng nǚ shì nín hǎo) or 绿地集团的相关负责人，您好！(lǜ dì jí tuán de xiāng guān fù zé rén nín hǎo) is always a good way to open a letter.
The main body of the text depends on the purpose of the letter. Here are some key sentences you may find useful to incorporate:
- 感谢您的来信 (gǎn xiè nín de lái xìn) – Thank you for your letter!
- 谢谢您的回复！(xiè xie nín de huí fù) – Thank you for your reply!
- 您的回感谢对我们公司的关注！((Nín de huí gǎnxiè duì wǒmen gōngsī de guānzhù!) – Thank you for your interest in our company!
- 我们保持联系！ (wǒ men bǎo chí lián xì) – Let’s keep in touch!
To end your formal letter, one of the most common and respectful ways to end is to write: 此致敬礼 (cǐ zhì jìng lǐ), which means “With best regards…”.
It should be written on two separate lines with 此致 (cǐ zhì) indented, as highlighted in the example given at the end of this article.
Finally, to sign off, many people choose to write their name, followed by “敬上” (jìng shàng) which is similar to saying, “Respectfully yours…”.
This is then followed in the next line by the date, which is written below your name, with the format Year/Month/Day.
The salutation and body of the letter is typically indented four spaces, whereas the date and signature are often aligned to the right. With the proper alignments, your letter should look something like this:
We hope this article is useful and you all enjoy writing your letters to whoever it may be!