How to start, write and end a letter in Spanish [formal + informal] (2024)

Knowing how to write a letter in Spanish is a useful tool to have, even in 2023.

Besides kindling the glamour and nostalgia of the good ol’ pre-internet days, writing a letter in Spanish can be incredibly helpful in certain situations. Indeed, even if you’re not going to sit down with a quill and a bottle of ink to write a long-winded letter on parchment paper, there are still countless scenarios where a formal or informal letter would maximize your chances of getting your point across.

From love letters to letters of complaint, there are many different types of letters that you could write in Spanish, each of them serving a different purpose. As such, each letter requires slightly different terminologies, and some may even require slightly different formats.

In this article, we’ll go over several types of letters in Spanish to help you find the right kind of letter to suit the occasion. We’ll also go over formal and informal letters so you can communicate with professional colleagues and also your friends and family. And if you’re looking for a job in a Spanish-speaking country or industry, we’ll also cover how to write a cover letter to help you land the job of your dreams!

Without further ado, let’s delve right into how to write a letter in Spanish!

Table of contents

  • Why learn Spanish letter writing?

  • Letter formatting

  • How to write a formal letter

  • How to write an informal letter

Why learn how to write a letter in Spanish?

If writing a letter sounds like something of the past, you might be in for a surprise. You probably haven’t thought about writing a letter in a long time because you’re already very familiar with the English letter format. However, writing a letter in Spanish is a bit different, as you’ll need to learn different formatting guidelines, letter etiquette, and some extra vocabulary.

Here’s what learning how to write a letter in Spanish can help you do, even in 2023:

  • Stand out in business. Sending a business letter can be a good way to make a great first impression with your clients and maintain long-lasting relationships.
  • Send emails. Although email etiquette is a bit different than that of physical letters, the body of an email follows the structure of a traditional letter very closely.
  • Send formal complaints. Nothing will ensure that your voice is heard more than sending a formal written letter to HQs.
  • Send heartfelt wishes. Nothing will help you express your most sincere wishes like writing a happy birthday or happy new year letter — or, why not, even a romantic love letter!

See? Learning to write a letter in Spanish can be super helpful! Let’s get started.

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Key letter writing vocabulary to keep in mind

Before we look at all the different types of letters out there, we should learn a few key vocabulary words related to letters. This will make the next few sections much, much easier to follow. Here are some of the most essential words and phrases you should be familiar with before you set out to write a letter in Spanish.

SpanishEnglishExample sentenceEnglish
Tamaño cartaLetter size (A4)Recuerda imprimir tu CV en una hoja tamaño carta.Remember to print your resume on letter-size paper.
Tamaño oficioLegal sizeSolo utilizamos hojas tamaño oficio para este tipo de proyectos.We only use legal-size paper for these types of projects.
SobreEnvelopeYa escribí mi carta, pero necesito un sobre para enviarla.I already wrote my letter, but I need an envelope to mail it.
Estampillas / postalesStampsLa tienda de conveniencia de la esquina vende estampillas.The convenience store in the corner sells stamps.
Membrete / hoja membretadaLetterheadEsta carta es muy formal, tiene membrete y todo.This letter is very formal, it’s got a letterhead and everything.
Correo electrónicoE-mail¿Por qué no mejor envías tu carta por correo electrónico?Why don’t you send your letter by email instead?
Correo postalPostal serviceLos envíos por correo postal son seguros pero bastante lentos.Mail sent by the postal service is very safe but also very slow.
Oficina postalPost officeLa oficina postal debe de tener sobres y estampillas.The post office should have envelopes and stamps.
RemitenteSenderLa dirección escrita en la parte inferior del sobre es la del remitente.The address written in the lower part of the envelope is the sender’s.
DestinatarioReceiverLo más importante es asegurarte que la dirección del destinatario esté bien escrita.The most important part is making sure that the address of the receiver is written correctly.
DirecciónAddress¿A qué dirección le enviamos su paquete?What address should we mail your package to?
Código postalZip codeTengo su dirección, pero no me sé el código postal.I have his address, but I don’t know his zip code.
EnviarTo sendNecesito tu dirección, te voy a enviar un paquete.I need your address, I’m going to send you a package.
RecibirTo receiveNo he recibido ninguna carta en los últimos dos meses.I haven’t received any letters in the past two months.
EntregarTo deliverEl cartero pasa a entregar todas las mañanas.The mailman delivers the mail every morning.
FirmaSignatureNo entregaron mi paquete porque no estaba en casa y necesitaba una firma.They couldn’t deliver my package because I wasn’t home and they needed a signature.
Apartado postalPO boxEstoy considerando contratar un apartado postal para encargarse de todas mis cartas.I’m considering hiring a PO box to manage all of my letters.
PostpersonCartero/carteraEl cartero me ayudó a asegurarme de que la dirección estuviera bien escrita.The mailman helped me ensure that the address was written correctly.
Correo certificadoCertified mailSu diploma universitario llegará por correo certificado dentro de los próximos siete días.Your university degree will be delivered by certified mail within seven days.
Correo basuraJunk mailNecesito ayuda para categorizar todo el correo basura que recibo en mi apartado postal.I need help categorizing all the junk mail I receive in my PO box.

Formatting a letter in Spanish

Spanish letter formatting is slightly different than English, especially for formal letters. Generally, you should follow this format when writing your Spanish letters:

  • Letterhead: The letterhead should be the very first thing on your letter, in the top-left. Your letterhead should include the business name and its address, phone number, logo, and website, if applicable.
  • Date: The date should be one space after the letterhead and aligned to the right.
  • Receiver address: The receiver address should be one space after the date and aligned to the left. Refer to the section below for writing addresses in Spanish.
  • Greeting: The greeting should follow the address and should be aligned to the left. We will cover dozens of greetings in this article, so keep reading!
  • Body: The body of the letter is by far the most flexible component. It should follow the greeting and be formatted like normal prose.
  • Sign-off: The sign-off can vary depending on the relation between the sender and receiver. We’ve included several formal and informal sign-offs below. It should be aligned to the left with a slight indentation.
  • Signature: The signature should be the very last part of the letter. It can include both your name and your signature or just one of the two. It should be aligned to the right.

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How to write the address on a letter in Spanish

Each country has its own way of writing addresses, so you’ll have to look into the specific country you’re trying to mail a letter to before writing the address. However, in general, you can expect Spanish-speaking countries to roughly follow this basic pattern:

  • First and last name or company name
  • Street, street number, apartment number
  • Zip code, county or municipality, state
  • Country (only for international mail)

Here’s an example:

Juan Pérez
Avenida Insurgentes #1337, 17A
C.P. 10038, Monterrey, Nuevo León
MEXICO

Sometimes, you’ll need to use a more complete address format when sending letters to more complicated locations, like hospitals or organizations. Here’s what information to include in the address in such situations:

  • Denomination or business name
  • Department or role in the organization
  • First and last name of the receiver
  • Street, street number, apartment number
  • Any complementary information
  • Information about the neighborhood
  • Zip code, county or municipality, state
  • Country (only for international mail)

Here’s an example of what a more complete address format would look like in Spanish:

Hospital Ángeles
Subdirector de Desarrollo
Dr. Andrés Monteverde
Bulevar Colosio #1808
esquina con Avenida Patria
Colonia Américas
C.P. 33009, Guadalajara, Jalisco
MEXICO

How to write the date on a letter in Spanish

Another common mistake made by native English speakers is writing the date incorrectly. If this sounds a bit odd, that’s because dates are written a bit differently in Spanish. If you know how to talk about months and tell the exact time in Spanish, then you already know that Spanish follows a different order than English.

These are a few of the most common ways to write the date in Spanish:

  • 25 de mayo de 2023.
  • 25/05/2023.
  • 25-05-2023.

Generally, writing out the full date as in the first example above is the most formal. Only use the abbreviations below if your letter is tight on space or if you’re trying to be as succinct as possible.

How to write a formal or business letter in Spanish

Writing a formal letter in Spanish can sound a lot harder than it actually is. This is particularly true if you already know some business Spanish vocabulary, as you’ll just need to learn some formalities for opening and closing formal letters in Spanish. Here are some of the most important things to consider when writing formal or business letters in Spanish.

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Formal letter greetings

Starting a formal letter with a strong greeting is one of the best ways to make a great first impression. This alone can help you stand out from the rest of the competition if you’re trying to win big by doing business in Spanish. One thing to note is that, while English greetings are followed by a comma, Spanish greetings are followed by a colon. Here are some examples to show you what we mean:

SpanishEnglishNotes
Estimado: / Estimada:Dear Sir, / Dear Madam,Used when adding the name of the receiver is unnecessary.
Estimado señor _____: / Estimada señora _____:Dear Mister _____, / Dear Mrs. _____Used when you want to address the receiver by name.
Estimados colegas:Dear colleagues,Used when addressing multiple people at the same time. Note that colleagues implies that you’re at the same level, so don’t use it with superiors.
A quien corresponda:To whom it may concern,Used when the receiver is unknown.
A quien le pueda interesar:To whom it may concern,Used when the receiver is unknown.
Al área de _____:To the department of _____,Used when addressing an entire department or when you don’t know which person in a specific department will respond to you.
Reciba usted un saludo cordialPlease receive a warm welcomeUse this immediately after the initial greeting to be extra polite.
Espero que esta carta le encuentre bienI hope this letter finds you wellUse this immediately after the initial greeting to be extra polite.
Espero que se encuentre en buena saludI hope this letter finds you in good healthUse this immediately after the initial greeting to be extra polite.

How to start a formal letter in Spanish

After the initial greeting, starting a formal letter in Spanish will vary depending on the purpose of your letter. Below, we’ll cover half a dozen of types of formal letters in Spanish to help you nail the assignment, whatever that may be.

How to start, write and end a letter in Spanish [formal + informal] (4)

Cover letters when applying for a job

Applying for a new job is one of the best things you can do for your career — especially if you’re looking for a job that can maximize your Spanish-speaking skills. A strong cover letter, known in Spanish as la carta de presentación, is your first impression of your potential new employer, so you have to make sure it stands out! Here are a few impressive ways to open your cover letter in Spanish.

SpanishEnglishNotes
Le escribo al respecto de la vacante de _____.I’m writing in application for _____.
Me gustaría enviar una solicitud para el puesto de _____.I wish to apply for the post of _____.
Le escribo en respuesta a su anuncio publicado en _____.I am writing in response to your advertisem*nt posted on _____.
Les escribo para hacerles llegar mi interés por la vacante de _____.I am writing to let you know about my interest in the position of _____.Most formal.
Me gustaría enviar una solicitud para el puesto de _____.I would like to apply for the job _____.Less formal.
Con referencia a su vacante de _____.In reference to your vacant job _____.Most formal.

Letter of inquiry

A letter of inquiry, known in Spanish as la carta de consulta, is a very versatile business document that can help figure out a number of issues. Generally used with other businesses, this type of letter can help you ask direct questions or follow up on past requests. Here are a few examples.

SpanishEnglishNotes
Le escribo para preguntar acerca de _____.I’m writing to inquire in regards to _____.Can be used to ask any type of question.
Por medio de la presente, me comunico para solicitar información sobre _____.Through this means, I am communicating to request information regarding _____.Formal request for information.
Me comunico para hacer la petición oficial para _____.I’m communicating to make an official petition for _____.Formal petition request.
Solicita: _____.Request: _____.Direct way to make a request.
Suplica: _____.Plea: _____.Direct way to make an urgent request.

Letter of complaint

Perhaps unfortunately so, we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve had to complain about a product or service we received. A letter of complaint, also known as la carta de reclamación or la carta de reclamo, can be a great way to get your point across and make your concerns heard. Here are some ways to get started:

SpanishEnglishNotes
Les escribo con respecto a mi pedido número _____ que realicé el _____. Desafortunadamente, aún no lo he recibido.I’m writing in regard to my order number _____, which I placed on _____. Unfortunately, I have yet to receive it.Used to complain about a product you ordered online but haven’t received yet.
Les escribo para comentarles acerca de mi descontento tras mi visita a su establecimiento el pasado _____.I’m writing to talk about my dissatisfaction after visiting your establishment last _____.Used to complain about bad service received at a store.
Me comunico con respecto al pésimo servicio que recibí por parte de su personal en _____.I’m communicating with you regarding the awful service I received on behalf of your staff at _____.Used to complain about bad service received at a store.
Me comunico con ustedes para expresar mi descontento con el servicio que recibí por parte de _____.I’m communicating with you to express my dissatisfaction with the service I received from_____.Used to complain about bad service received from a specific employee at a store.
Les escribo para expresar mi mayor descontento con el producto _____ que compré en su tienda.I’m writing to express my highest dissatisfaction with the product _____ I bought from your store.Used to complain about the bad quality of a product purchased in-store.
Escribo esta carta para presentar mi queja acerca de_____ oficialmente.I’m writing this letter to formally present my complaint regarding ____.Extremely formal complaint letter.
Me comunico para informarles que el ______ compré un ______ en su tienda en _____. No me siento para nada satisfecho con mi compra y me gustaría expresar mi más sincero descontento con el servicio al cliente que he recibido hasta ahora.I’m communicating to inform you that on _____ I bought a _____ at your store in _____. I don’t feel at all satisfied with my purchase and I would like to express my most sincere dissatisfaction with the customer service I’ve received so far.Letter to express dissatisfaction with a particular product.

Letter of apology

Sometimes, just saying sorry isn’t enough. For those situations, writing an apology letter can be a more effective way of getting your sincere apology across. Also known as la carta de disculpas, writing one can be a great way to show that you’re really sorry for a particular situation.

Plus, with dozens of ways to say sorry in Spanish, you should be able to customize it very easily. This can be helpful for businesses that provide customer service, as owning up to mistakes and offering solutions can make a difference in the customer’s experience. Here are a few examples:

SpanishEnglishNotes
Le escribo para pedirle disculpas por el mal servicio que recibió en su más reciente visita a _____.I’m writing to apologize for the poor service you received on your recent visit to _____.Used by a company to apologize to a client.
Quisiera expresar mis más sinceras disculpas con usted tras lo sucedido.I would like to express my most sincere apologies to you regarding what happened.Personal apology.
Por favor, acepte mis más sinceras disculpas acerca de la situación.Please, accept my most sincere apologies for the situation.Personal apology.
A nombre de toda la compañía, me gustaría desearle mis más sinceras disculpas.On behalf of the entire company, I would like to wish you my most sincere apologies.Used by a company to apologize to a client.
Aunque una disculpa no es suficiente para resolver los daños causados, me gustaría ofrecer una como un primer paso para reparar nuestra relación.Even though an apology is not enough to resolve the damage caused, I would like to offer one as a first step toward repairing our relationship.Personal apology.
Sé que lo que hice está mal y no hay ninguna manera de justificarlo.I know that what I’ve done is wrong and there is no way to justify it.Personal apology.

Letter of response

A letter of response is, naturally, a formal way to respond to a formal or official inquiry. Known as la carta de respuesta in Spanish, these types of letters can be very helpful for businesses and formal organizations. They can also serve as a way to acknowledge that they’ve received a request but need more time to answer the question or process the petition. Here are a few cases:

SpanishEnglishNotes
Le escribo en respuesta a la pregunta sobre _____.I’m writing in response to your inquiry on the _____.To answer questions.
En respuesta a su carta del _____, me complace indicarle que _____.In response to your letter from _____, I’m pleased to let you know that _____.To answer questions.
En respuesta a su carta del _____, me apena indicarle que _____.In response to your letter from _____, I’m saddened to let you know that _____.To answer a question with unfortunate news.
En respuesta a la petición recibida, _____.In response to the requested petition, _____.In response to a petition.
Le agradezco mucho por comunicarse con nosotros con respecto a _____. Vamos a tomar las medidas necesarias para asegurarnos de que esta situación no vuelva a suceder.Thank you very much for letting us know about _____. We will take extra precautions to ensure that this situation doesn’t happen again.In response to a client complaint.
Para responder su pregunta, _____.To answer your question, _____.To answer questions.

Letter of sales/promotion

One of the best skills you could possibly have to succeed in business is being able to sell. Being an amazing salesperson is a skill that can translate across languages, but only if you have the right vocabulary to do so. Here are some of the most common phrases for writing a letter of sales, or la carta de ventas, in Spanish:

SpanishEnglishNotes
Le escribo para comentarle acerca de nuestra más reciente promoción de _____.I’m writing to let you know about our most recent special offer of _____.Writing about a new promo.
Le escribo para asegurarme de que no se pierda nuestra increíble promoción de _____.I’m writing to make sure that you don’t miss our new amazing special offer of _____.Writing about a new promo.
Le escribo para animarle a inscribirse a nuestra más nueva promoción _____.I’m writing to encourage you to sign up for our most recent promo _____.Writing about a new signup promo.
Me comunico con usted para asegurarme de que no se pierda de nuestra promoción por tiempo limitado de _____.I’m getting in touch to make sure that you don’t miss out on our limited-time offer of _____.Writing about a new promo.
Descubre cómo puedes aprovechar los más recientes descuentos de _____.Find out how you can take advantage of the most recent discounts of _____.Writing about new deals.
Estimado _____, le escribimos para informarle acerca de una promoción exclusiva para nuestros clientes más importantes.Dear _____, we’re writing to let you know about our new exclusive promo for our most important clients.Writing about new deals.

How to sign off or end a formal letter in Spanish

Finally, you will want to close out your formal Spanish letter with a powerful sign-off. One of the most common ways to close out a formal letter is by thanking the receiver for their time and attention. Luckily, there are many ways to say thank you in Spanish. You’ll want to stick to the more formal ones when closing out your formal letter, though. Here are some examples:

How to start, write and end a letter in Spanish [formal + informal] (5)

SpanishEnglishNotes
Le agradezco de antemano por su atención.Thank you in advance for your attention,Most formal.
Atentamente,Attentively,
Cordialmente,Cordially,
Saludos cordiales,Cordial greetings,
Sin otro particular, les saluda atentamente,Without any other points, you’re greeted attentively byMost formal.
En espera de su respuesta, le saluda atentamente,Awaiting for your answer, you’re greeted attentively byMost formal.
Con sus mejores deseos, se despide atentamente,With their best wishes, you’re bid farewell attentively byMost formal.
Quedo a su disposición,I remain at your disposal,
Quedo a la espera de su respuesta,I await for your response,
Con mis mejores deseos,With my best wishes,
Reciba un cordial saludo,Receive a cordial greeting,Most formal.
Respetuosamente,Respectfully,

Example of a formal letter in Spanish

Now, before you put all these new Spanish letter components to the test, let us show you a good example of a formal letter in Spanish. Feel free to use it as a template and customize it to your needs!

Asociación de Escritores de México
Avenida Jalisco #8876-B
C.P. 10038, Monterrey, Nuevo León
MEXICO

25 de mayo de 2023

Dr. Rogelio González González
Calle Pilares #223, PH2
Colonia Roma Norte
C.P. 03100 Cuauhtémoc, CDMX

Estimado Doctor:

En respuesta a la petición recibida, nos complace compartir que su solicitud de admisión a la Asociación de Escritores de México ha sido aceptada. A partir de hoy, usted será parte de un distinguido grupo de escritores mexicanos.

En las próximas semanas, usted estará recibiendo su paquete de bienvenida por correo en la dirección proporcionada. Ahí, usted encontrará su carta de aceptación y documentos con información importante de su membresía.

Sin otro particular, le saluda atentamente

Miguel Ángel Cervantes Rodríguez
Director General
Asociación de Escritores de México

How to write an informal letter in Spanish

Writing an informal letter in Spanish can be a bit more fun than writing a formal one, as there are fewer rules to stay on top of. Generally, you’ll be writing informal letters to your friends, family members, neighbors, and other people you know well. That means you can use more laid-back writing, even including some Spanish slang. However, there are still a few guidelines you should follow to make your informal letter flow better.

Also known as la carta informal, here are some tips on how to write an informal letter in Spanish:

How to start, write and end a letter in Spanish [formal + informal] (6)

Informal letter greetings

Writing the greeting for your informal letter can be a great way to be personable and show your appreciation for the person you’re writing to. You may want to start with a term of endearment, a fun nickname, or any of the greetings below:

SpanishEnglishRelationship context
HolaHiCasual.
EyHeyExtremely casual.
Querido, QueridaDearAffectionate.
Mi muy querido amigo / Mi muy querida amigaMy dear friend,Affectionate.
Hola, _____Hi, _____Insert the name of the receiver in the blank
Un gusto saludarte,What a pleasure to say hello to youCasual.
Queridísimo hermano / Queridísima hermanaDearest brother / Dearest sisterDoesn’t have to be a literal brother or sister

How to start an informal letter in Spanish

After your initial greeting, you’ll want to follow with a question asking about their well-being or what’s new. Alternatively, you may want to simply get to the point and tell them exactly why you’re writing them. Here are a few examples:

SpanishEnglishNotes
¿Cómo estás?How are you?Casual.
¿Qué tal?How’s it going?Casual.
¿Qué hay de nuevo?What’s new?Casual.
Solo quería saludarte.I just wanted to say hi.Casual.
Te escribía para felicitarte por ____.I was writing to congratulate you on ____.Can be used for birthdays and other special occasions.
Te escribo para ____.I’m writing for ____.Used to make a request.
Te escribo para preguntarte ____.I’m writing to ask you about ____.Used to ask a question.
Te escribo porque escuché que ____.I’m writing because I heard that ____.
Te escribo para felicitarte a ti y a tu linda pareja por su boda.I’m writing to congratulate you and your lovely partner on your wedding.

How to end an informal letter in Spanish

Ending an informal letter can be just as fun as starting it. With over 87 ways to say goodbye in Spanish, you can definitely find the perfect way to end your letter in Spanish informally. Here are a few examples:

SpanishEnglishNotes
¡Saludos!Regards!Casual.
Hasta pronto,See you soon,Casual.
Un abrazo,A hug,Affectionate.
Un fuerte abrazo,A strong hug,Affectionate.
Recibe un fuerte abrazo,Receive a strong hug,Affectionate.
Besos,Kisses,Affectionate.
Besos y abrazos,Kisses and hugs,Affectionate.
Con aprecio,With appreciation,Casual.
Con cariñoWith affection,Casual.
Con afecto,With affection,Affectionate.
Con amor,With love,Affectionate.
Cuídate,Take care,Casual.
Un saludo,A greeting,Casual.
Seguimos en contacto,We’re still in touch,Casual.
Espero saber de ti pronto,I hope to hear from you soon,Casual.
Muchas gracias,Thanks a lot,Casual.
Nos vemos pronto,See you soon,Casual.

Build bridges by writing letters in Spanish

Sure, there are times when meeting face-to-face or giving someone a call is a better way to build relationships and develop your business empire. However, writing a formal or informal letter can also be a great way to create unique bonds with your friends and business partners. You could even pick up the habit of sending postcards with a short letter summarizing your travels to your friends back home as you make your way through the Spanish-speaking countries. Who wouldn’t love to receive a letter from Peru or Costa Rica!?

If you’re feeling more confident in your ability to write letters in Spanish, then you should check out the rest of our Spanish articles. We regularly publish fun new guides to help you improve different parts of the Spanish language, like the difference between por and para and how to master the Spanish prepositions. Oh, and the best part? It’s all free!

How to start, write and end a letter in Spanish [formal + informal] (2024)
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