What are the proper greetings and salutations when beginning a letter or email? What are the differences when writing a formal business letter/email versus an informal letter/email to an acquaintance?
@cno149, you have a few options.
To begin - formal:
- Exmo(a). Sr(a)… → Abbreviation of Excelentíssimo Senhor or Excelentíssima Senhora. Translates to something like “Your Excellence” (and I swear we use this a lot). The gold standard for very formal communications.
- Caro(a) Sr(a)… → Means “Dear Mr(s)…”. A decent alternative for formal (but not very formal, in my opinion) communications.
“Sr(a).” may be replaced or complemented by any other applicable title, such as “Dr(a).” (doutor or doutora), “Prof(a).” (professor/professora) or “Eng(a).” (engenheiro/engenheira).
My personal preference for formal messages: To just open with “Saudações” (Greetings) or a general greeting like “Bom dia” or “Boa tarde” as often as possible.
To end - formal:
- Com os melhores cumprimentos [With my best regards] → The gold standard, for formal to very formal communications.
Other alternatives: Atenciosamente [Sincerely], Cordialmente [Cordially]… → When you want to give it a warmer touch while still sounding formal.
To begin - informal:
- Caro(a) [name of the person] → Same as the formal option, but without any titles, just the person’s name. It’s very neutral as a greeting, so it’s especially good for acquaintances or people you don’t know, but don’t have to be formal with.
Otherwise, for close friends/relatives/others, you can do whatever you want. Just the person’s name, or an “Olá/Bom dia/…”, or “Querido(a) [name]” (also means “Dear [someone]”, but much more intimate), etc.
To close - informal:
- Cumprimentos [Regards] → Neutral. Good for contexts that don’t require formality, but where you’re not writing to someone who is close.
- Beijinhos [Kisses] → Very informal. Typically written for a woman (by a man or woman) or for a man (by a woman only). Doesn’t actually require as much intimacy as it might seem.
- Abraço [Hug] → Very informal. Typically written for a man (by another man). Doesn’t actually require as much intimacy as it might seem - might be used in writing even between men who wouldn’t physically greet with hugs.