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 >  Home   >   Business e-mails in German : 14 salutations for proper use  
German Business Etiquette in English

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Writing business e-mails in German:
14 greetings and salutations and their proper use

Friendly or firm? Casual or formal?
Quite frequently, non-native speakers of German unintentionally use inappropriate or impolite greetings and salutations at the start and/or the closing of their emails. Since many of these emails are requests for assistance or more information, these can be costly errors. However, they can be easily avoided once the basics of German written salutations are understood.

Here are a few tips on how salutations should be worded depending on the relationship between the recipient and the person writing the email.

Small talk in der Firma

At the beginning of an e-mail

Salutation Relation to the addressee
Sehr geehrter Herr [ Nachname ],
Sehr geehrte Frau [ Nachname ],
formal, reserved
Lieber Herr [ Nachname ],
Liebe Frau [ Nachname ],
less formal,
suggeriert acquaintance
Lieber [ Vorname ],
Liebe [ Vorname ],
friends, informel
personal acquaintance
Hallo, stereotyped, unpersonal

At the end of an e-mail

Salutation Relation to the addressee
Mit freundlichen Grüßen stereotyped, friendly, unpersonal, reserved
Freundliche Grüße less stereotyped, less reserved
Beste Grüße formal, friendly, open
Herzliche Grüße less formal, personal acquaintance or suggested this
Herzlichst less formal, personal acquaintance or suggested this
Viele Grüße friendly, informel, personal acquaintance or suggested this
Sommerliche Grüße friendly, informel, with seasonal reference
Viele Grüße nach Hamburg friendly, informel, with regional reference 
Liebe Grüße personal acquaintance, between friends
Ciao between friends, with reference to vacations and leisure time

Keep in mind that the decision as to which of the above is appropriate for an e-mail depends on the status of the relationship between the addressed and the addressee. For example, if you are not on a first name basis with someone, you would use those greetings labeled as "standard, impersonal, and reserved".

Resist the urge to use informal or personal greetings in an attempt to create a closer relationship than the one that actually exists. This could be interpreted as disrespectful and make a negative impression on the recipient.

This article is also part of a monthly newsletter of Learn-German-Online.net.


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Keywords: Salutations in German, correct salutation, salutation, form of salutation, salutation German

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Content: Gretchen Schaupp & Joachim Graff, E-mail: info@german-business-etiquette.com
Last update: 14.02.2019
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