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How to Write a Formal Email in Chinese

ASHLEY LABRIE

Writing formally in a foreign language can certainly be scary! With Chinese correspondence being a LOT more formal than in the West, that can make it even more daunting - but don’t worry, we’re here to help!

In our last post, we gave a detailed breakdown of how to write a letter - 写信 (xiě xìn) - in Chinese. If you missed it, be sure to check it out here

This time, we’ll be sharing tips, tricks, and useful language for writing emails - 写电子邮件 (xiě diàn zǐ yóu jiàn) - to a variety of people in Chinese!

Remember: The main thing to take away from this post is that unless you’re addressing someone you know really well (a close friend, coworker at the same level, penpal, etc.), it’s best to stick with the most “formal” and “respectful” wording. Emails and letters in Chinese tend to be a lot more formal than in English!

Also, be sure that as you’re writing, you use Chinese characters (rather than pinyin) and the correct Chinese punctuation marks: “。” for a period, “,” for a comma, “?” for questions, “!” for exclamations, and “、” as a comma when listing nouns.

Writing the Subject Line



Just like in English, it’s best to keep the subject line of an email short, sweet, and to the point. 

Your subject line will vary widely, depending on what your email is regarding, but here are a few examples for reference: 

  • 房产项目合作机会 (fáng chǎn xiàng mù hé zuò jī huì) - Opportunity to Cooperate on Real Estate Projects
  • 居外公司简介 (jū wài gōng sī jiǎn jiè) - Company Bio of Juwai
  • 孔子学院奖学金的申请资料 (kǒng zǐ xué yuàn jiǎng xué jīn de shēn qǐng zī liào) - Application Materials for the Confucius Institute Scholarship
  • 申请财务经理招聘广告 (shēn qǐng cái wù jīng lǐ zhāo pìn guǎng gào) - Application for Financial Manager Job Posting
  • 期末考试日期 (qī mò kǎo shì rì qī) - Date of the Final Exam
  • 语言交换伙伴 (yǔ yán jiāo huàn huǒ bàn) - Language Exchange Partner

Title and Greeting



Option 1: Specific, Formal


When in doubt, use the most respectful title, which is 尊敬的 (zūn jìng de), followed by the person’s name. It literally means “respectable” in English, but it’s really the equivalent of “Dear...” found in formal letters in English. 


After this title, you’ll usually just add the person’s surname, followed by the words, 女士 (nǚ shì) - “Ms.”, and 先生 (xiān sheng) - “Mr.”. You may also notice that the order in Chinese is the opposite of English - surname and then title! 

*Please note: while both can mean “Mrs.”, 女士 (nǚ shì) is more formal and polite than 小姐 (xiǎo jiě). There is no equivalent of “Ms.” in Chinese.

An example would be: 尊敬的王女士 (zūn jìng de wáng nǚ shì) - Dear Ms. Wang.

Option 2: Specific, Informal


If you’re writing to someone you’re close to, like a friend, or coworker that’s at the same level as you, you can use 亲爱的 (qīn ài de) instead of 尊敬的 (zūn jìng de), as it’s less formal.  


亲爱的 (qīn ài de) literally means “Dear…”, but it’s only appropriate for someone you know well, like your family members, friends, or coworkers that are of the same level as you - you should NOT use it for your superiors, clients, etc. 

亲爱的 (qīn ài de) can also be used for your teachers. Another way of addressing teachers specifically is 敬爱的 (jìng ài de)

*Please note: 亲爱的 (qīn ài de) is usually only used between two females.

After 亲爱的 (qīn ài de), just add the person’s first name, since it’s informal.

So if you’re writing to your friend Lili, you can write 亲爱的莉莉 (qīn ài de lì lì) - Dear Lili. This “Dear” is a lot less formal than the “Dear” within 尊敬的 (zūn jìng de).

Option 3: Generic, Formal


Another way of addressing the email is to use 致 (zhì), which is like “To: …” in English - it’s just a bit more straightforward than the above ways. This is also good to use if you’re not who specifically to address the email to. 

Let’s say you’re writing to a school in China - you could 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.

Option 4: Generic, Formal


Now, if you’re REALLY not sure about who you should be addressing, you can stick with writing the company’s or organization’s name, followed by 的相关负责人 (de xiāng guān fù zé rén), which refers to the company’s “related staff/decision makers”, and is used in a similar way as “To Whom it May Concern” in English. 

Option 5: Other Specific Titles, Formal/Informal


Some other titles you may want to include (followed by the addressee’s surname) are:

  • 总经理 (zǒng jīng lǐ) or just 总 (zǒng) - President or Manager
  • 经理 (jīng lǐ) - Manager (not as high ranking as 总经理 (zǒng jīng lǐ))
  • 老师 (lǎo shī) - Teacher (a term also used for professors)

So, you could write to 陈总 (chén zǒng) - President Chen, 李经理 (lǐ jīng lǐ) - Manager Li, or even 胡老师 (hú lǎo shī) - Teacher Hu. 

If you’re writing informally, like a close friend, classmate, or coworker that is around your level, you can just refer to them by their names, such as 俐霞 (lì xiá) - Lixia, 陈伟 (chén wěi) - Chen Wei, or 小红 (xiǎo hóng) - Xiao Hong. 

Though some of the above ways of addressing people seem a bit strange in English, they’re really quite common in Chinese! 

Adding the Greeting


We’re not done just yet!


You should also add a greeting after the person’s name/title, which is normally one of the following:
  • 您好 (nín hǎo) - Hello (polite/formal) 
  • 你好 (nǐ hǎo) - Hello (informal)

If your email is addressed formally, go with 您好 (nín hǎo), which is a more polite form of “hello”. 

If the letter is informal, you can use 你好 (nǐ hǎo), the more informal version of “hello”.

So, we can say things like:


  • 尊敬的陈总,您好!(zūn jìng de chén zǒng nín hǎo)
  • 敬爱的胡老师,您好!(jìng ài de hú lǎo shī nín hǎo)
  • 尊敬的王先生,您好!(zūn jìng de wáng xiān sheng nín hǎo)
  • 亲爱的俐霞同学,你好!(qīn ài de lì xiá tóng xué nǐ hǎo)
  • 绿地集团的相关负责人,您好!(lǜ dì jí tuán de xiāng guān fù zé rén nín hǎo)

*Check out this FREE lesson from our Intermediate Conversational Course, to help you address people formally in Chinese.*

Writing the Body



The content of the body of the email will vary a great deal, depending on what you’re writing about, but here are a few examples to give you an idea: 

Example 1 - Thank You Letter for Business


谢谢贵公司送的月饼,我们今天收到了!我们很期待下个月的会议,到时候我们请客!


(xiè xie guì gōng sī sòng de yuè bǐng, wǒ men jīn tiān shōu dào le! wǒ men hěn qī dài xià ge yuè de huì yì, dào shí hou wǒ men qǐng kè)

Thank you for the mooncakes you sent, we received them today! We’re really looking forward to our meeting next month, we’ll take you out to eat then!

Example 2 - Outreach Letter for Business


您好,我们公司是做美国房产生意的,在网上找到了贵公司的项目!我们对贵公司的洛杉矶项目非常感兴趣,手上有几位客人刚好想买房作为投资,感觉你们项目很适合这些客人。我们这几位客人都想买五十万以上的房子,而且意向很强。

如果您对合作机会感兴趣,请随时联系我。我的电话号码是 +1 (123) 456-7890,邮箱是 ailili@LAREC.com。

(nín hǎo, wǒ men gōng sī shì zuò měi guó fáng chǎn shēng yì de, zài wǎng shàng zhǎo dào le guì gōng sī de xiàng mù! wǒ men duì guì gōng sī de luò shān jī xiàng mù fēi cháng gǎn xìng qù, shǒu shàng yǒu jǐ wèi kè rén gāng hǎo xiǎng mǎi fáng zuò wéi tóu zī, gǎn jué nǐ men xiàng mù hěn shì hé zhè xiē kè rén. wǒ men zhè jǐ wèi kè rén dōu xiǎng mǎi wǔ shí wàn yǐ shàng de fáng zi, ér qiě yì xiàng hěn qiáng.

rú guǒ nín duì hé zuò jī huì gǎn xìng qù, qǐng suí shí lián xì wǒ. wǒ de diàn huà hào mǎ shì +1 (123) 456-7890, yóu xiāng shì ailili@LAREC.com.)

Hello, our company is in the US real estate business, and found your company’s project online! We’re really interested in your project in Los Angeles, we have several clients on-hand that happen to be looking to buy homes as an investment. We feel that your project would be a great fit for these clients. Our clients are looking to buy homes that are over $500k, and they have a strong intent to buy.

If you are interested in this opportunity to work together, please contact me anytime. My phone number is +1 (123) 456-7890, and my email is ailili@LAREC.com.

Example 3 - Email for Business


谢谢您对我们公司的关注。附件是我们公司的宣传册,请查收。若您方便,我们也可以开会讨论合作的事情。

(xiè xie nín duì wǒ men gōng sī de guān zhù. fù jiàn shì wǒ men gōng sī de xuān chuán cè, qǐng chá kàn. ruò nín fāng biàn, wǒ men yě kě yǐ kāi huì tǎo lùn hé zuò de shì qíng

Thank you for your interest in our company. Attached is our company brochure, feel free to check it out. If it works for you, we can have a meeting to discuss working together.

Example 4 - Email for Client/Customer


您好!谢谢您来的信!

 
您的账号我们已经帮您设定好了,请查看以下登陆信息:
 
邮箱:ailili @ LAREC.com
密码:somepassword
 
(nín hǎo! xiè xie nín lái de xìn!
 
nín de zhàng hào wǒ men yǐ jīng bāng nín shè dìng hǎo le, qǐng chá kàn yǐ xià dēng lù xìn xī 
 
yóu xiāng: ailili @ LAREC.com
mì mǎ: somepassword)
 
Hello! Thank you for your email!
 
We’ve already gone ahead and set up your account for you, please see the below login information:
 
Email: ailili @ LAREC.com
Password: somepassword
 

Example 5 - Email for Teacher


老师好!很抱歉我忘了期末考试是什么时候了,您方便再告诉我一下吗?
 
因为我月底要出国,所以想确认一下我时间没问题。
 
(lǎo shī hǎo! hěn bào qiàn, wǒ wàng le qī mò kǎo shì shì shén me shí hou le, nín fāng biàn zài gào su wǒ yí xia ma? 
 
yīn wèi wǒ yuè dǐ yào chū guó, suǒ yǐ xiǎng què rèn yí xia wǒ shí jiān méi wèn tí)
 
Hi teacher/professor! I’m sorry, I forgot when our final exam is, would you be able to let me know? 
 

At the end of the month, I’ll be going abroad, so I’d like to make sure there’s no issue with the time.


Other Useful Sentences for the Body


Here are some go-to sentences you can use in your emails:


  • 感谢您的来信!(gǎn xiè nín de lái xìn) - Thank you for your email!
  • 谢谢您的回复!(xiè xie nín de huí fù) - Thank you for your reply!
  • 感谢对我们公司的关注!(gǎn xiè duì wǒ men gōng sī de guān zhù) - Thank you for your interest in our company!
  • 很高兴收到您的来信!(hěn gāo xìng shōu dào nín de lái xìn) - It’s nice to see your email!
  • 很抱歉没有及时回复!(hěn bào qiàn méi yǒu jí shí huí fù) - I’m sorry for not replying right away!
  • 如有不便之处,敬请见谅。(rú yǒu bú biàn zhī chù, jìng qǐng jiàn liàng) - We apologize for any inconvenience.
  • 收到了!(shōu dào le) - Received! (of an email/text)
  • 没问题!(méi wèn tí) - No problem!
  • 附件是___,请查收。(fù jiàn shì ____ qǐng chá shōu) - Attached is ____, please check it out. / Please find the ____ attached.
  • 我抄送了我们部门的____。(wǒ chāo sòng le wǒ men bù mén de ____) - I copied __person’s name__ from our department (in the email).
  • ____把您的信息转给我了。(bǎ nín de xìn xī zhuǎn gěi wǒ le) - __person’s name__ forwarded your information to me.
  • 请把___转给我,我看一下。(qǐng bǎ ____ zhuǎn gěi wǒ, wǒ kàn yí xià) - Please forward ____ to me, I’ll take a look.
  • 我们的团队很期待跟您见面!(wǒ men de tuán duì hěn qī dài gēn nín jiàn miàn) - Our team is looking forward to meeting with you!
  • 我们很期待跟贵公司的合作!(wǒ men hěn qī dài gēn guì gōng sī de hé zuò) - We’re looking forward to working with your company!
  • 到时候,我们请你吃饭吧!(dào shí hou, wǒ men qǐng nǐ chī fàn ba) - We’ll take you out to eat then (referring to some future scheduled meeting)!
  • 我们保持联系!(wǒ men bǎo chí lián xì) - Let’s keep in touch!

Closing Words



The best way to end a letter or an email is to write 此致敬礼 (cǐ zhì jìng lǐ), which means “With best regards...”. This is basically the go-to, most common and respectful way to end an email. 

It should be written on two separate lines, as below:

        此致
敬礼!


We’ll talk more about the formatting here in the next section.

Other Options for Emails


There are a few other options you can use for emails, depending on who the recipient is and the situation. 

The following are less formal than 此致敬礼 (cǐ zhì jìng lǐ):

  • 祝好!(zhù hǎo) - Wish you all the best! (generic, OK as formal or informal)
  • 祝一切顺利! (zhù yì qiè shùn lì) - Hope everything is going well for you! (generic, for anyone on a personal/informal level)
  • 祝你一切都好!(zhù nǐ yì qiè dōu hǎo) - Hope everything is good with you! (generic, for anyone on a personal/informal level)
  • 保重!(bǎo zhòng) - Take care!  (generic, for anyone on a personal/informal level)
  • 祝您健康长寿!(zhù nín jiàn kāng cháng shòu) - Wish you health and longevity! (for elderly people on a personal/informal level)
  • 祝工作顺利!(zhù gōng zuò shùn lì) - Wish you a successful career! (for friends on a personal/informal level)
  • 祝学习进步!(zhù xué xí jìn bù) - Wish you good progress in your studies! (for younger kids/adolescents on a personal/informal level)

Please note: when writing formally - to your boss, higher ups, clients, business partners, elders, etc. - it’s HIGHLY recommended to use 此致敬礼 (cǐ zhì jìng lǐ) - it’s your safest bet to be respectful!

Signature and Overall Format of Emails 



Compared to Chinese letters, the format of emails is a bit more flexible. 

You do not have to date the email, and you can also just include your email “signature”, which often has your name, title, company, and core contact information.

The format is also simpler, with everything aligned to the left, and usually less indentations.

Here is an example of what the format might look like:

Subject: 房产项目合作机会 

Body:
绿地集团的相关负责人:

您好!

我们公司是做美国房产的,在网上找到了你们公司的项目!我们对贵公司的洛杉矶项目非常感兴趣,手上有几位客人刚好想买房作为投资,感觉你们项目很适合这些客人。我们这几位客人都想买五十万以上的房子,而且意向很强。

如果您对合作机会感兴趣,请随时联系我。我的电话号码是 +1 (123) 456-7890,邮箱是 ailili@LAREC.com。



      此致
敬礼!


艾莉莉


艾莉莉 / Lili Ai
市场部专员 / Marketing Specialist
洛杉矶房产公司 / LA Real Estate Company
地址:123 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
电话:+1 (123) 456-7890
邮箱:ailili@LAREC.com

That’s all for this post on writing emails in Chinese. We hope this two-part post is helpful to you, whether you’re writing to a friend, a future employer, your boss, or a client! 

If you’re ever unsure about an email or letter you’ve written, have a close Chinese friend take a look at it before you send it out.

If you’re just getting started learning Chinese, check out our Beginner Conversational Course to build a strong foundation in pinyin, the tones, and the conversational language you’ll use most often! You can achieve basic conversational fluency in just SIX months! 


Level 1 of the course takes about 1 month to complete, studying 30 minutes a day - and is FREE! - so start now.


Interested in learning Chinese characters as well? Check out our Chinese Character Course I, where we teach you the 300 MOST common Chinese characters. The first few lessons are free!

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Ashley Labrie helps with all things academic at Yoyo Chinese. She has been learning Chinese for many years and has lived in China, where she first fell in love with the language and culture.

Wed, 10 Jun 2020 07:00:00 GMT

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