German Letter and E-Mail Writing Formulations

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German Letter and E-Mail Writing Formulations

Last week we looked at ways to correctly address letters and write your salutations and conclusions. What we learned was that adjective endings are particularly important for these tasks.

This week we’ll look at some key formulations that will be helpful for writing the body of your letter in German. I’ve broken this up according to the purpose of the letter.

Bedauern — Regret

Never a please to write, but often you need to express regret for an action, for someone being inconvenienced or for having to deliver bad news. It is a good idea to start with the regret and then give a justification introduced with the conjunction aber. Here are some good German formulations:

Introductory phraseConjunctionMiddleLast position
Es tut mir sehr Leid,Es tut uns aufrichtig Leid, dass Sie … (Ärger) … hatten.
Wir bedauern,
Es ist sehr schade,
Es tut mir sehr Leid,aufrichtig Leid,Es tut uns Leid, aber


  • Es tut mir Leid, dass wir noch immer keine definitive Aussage über unser weiteres Vorgehen treffen oder konkrete Aussagen machen können.
    • I regret that we still cannot give a more definite position as to how we will proceed or be more specific.
  • Es tut mir sehr leid, aber wir haben diese Aktion bereits vor sechs Wochen angekündigt, also handelt es sich nicht um eine spontane Aktion.
    • I am very sorry but we did announce this action six weeks ago – it has not exactly appeared out of the blue.

Take note of the German conjuctions being used in the examples. Dass is a subordinating conjunction, which means that the verb goes at then end of the sentence. Aber on the other hand is a coordinating conjunction and does not cause any change in sentence structure.

Useful Vocabulary:

Leid tun – to be sorry

aufrichtig – truly, genuinely, honestly

bedauern – to regret

Ärger, der – irritation, annoyance, anger, troubles

Entschuldigung — Apology

Sometimes you may wish to express an apology for something. You’ve probably already used the German word Entschuldigung before when travelling on a bus or trying to make your way through a crowd. Let’s see some handy German formulations you can use when writing apologies in letters and e-mails.

EntschuldigenVerzeihen Sie bitte, dass …
Wir bitten Sie wegen … um Entschuldigung.Verzeihung.
Ich möchte michWir möchten uns für … entschuldigen.
(Situation)… ist sehr unangenehmpeinlich für uns.


  • Wir bitten für die Unannehmlichkeiten um Entschuldigung und informieren Sie zeitnah über das Erscheinen der Änderungen.
    • We apologize for any inconveniences that may occur as a result of these changes and will keep you informed about related developments.
  • Wir möchten uns für die Unannehmlichkeiten entschuldigen und danken für euer Verständnis.
    • We would like to apologise for any disappointment and thank you for your understanding.

The variations here are a bit more complex than in our first example.

Useful Vocabulary:

Verzeihung, die — forgiveness, pardon,

verveihen — to forgive, to pardon

Unannehmlichkeit, die — discomfort, unpleasantness, inconvenience

unangenehm — awkward, objectionable, unpleasant

jemanden um etwas bitten — to ask someone for something

peinlich — awkward, embarrassing, mortifying

Einladung — Invitation

Much nicer than writing apologies and having to deliver bad news, is writing invitations to celebrations. German speaking people people love to celebrate things with friends and family. Not just anyone will receive an invitation, so if you get one consider yourself special. Here are a few formulations you might want to use when writing your next invitation in German:

HiermitHierdurchMit diesem BriefZu …. (Party / Celebration) laden wir Sie (sehr) herzlich zu …                 ein
 möchten wir Sie (herzlich) zu …            einladen


  • Hiermit laden wir Sie herzlich auf unseren Messestand E27 ein.
    • We would like to invite you to visit our exhibition stand E27.
  • Mit dieser Webseite möchten wir Sie einladen, uns etwas besser kennenzulernen.
    • With this website we would like to invite you to get to know us better.

Note that the invitations may not always be for birthday parties, but often also to visit businesses and for marketing purposes, like in the examples above. In the second example we see a good use of a zu-construction.

Useful Vocabulary:

hiermit — hereby, herewith

hierdurch — hereby

einladen — to invite (separable prefix)

Dank — Thanks

German speaking people are big on giving thanks. It is customary to write a thank you letter or card for people that have come to your party, a wedding, or a funeral. Sometimes they do not know when to stop sending thanks — “Thank you for the card thanking me for coming to your birthday party.” An extreme example, but I’m sure it has happened more than once. Try using these formulations for expressing your gratitude in German:

Für … (the thing you’re giving thanks for) danke ich Ihnendanken wir Ihnensehr
(ganz herzlich)
 möchte ich Ihnen
 möchte ich mich bedanken.
 Dank für … (the thing you’re giving thanks for)
Haben Sie(ganz) herzlichen Dank
Ich bedanke mich
Wir bedanken uns
Ich möchte mich für … bedanken.
Wir möchten uns
Über Ihren BriefIhre Hilfe habe ich michhaben wir uns sehr gefreut.


  • Vielen Dank für Ihre schnelle Antwort und die sehr professionelle Erledigung meiner Anfrage!
    • Thank you for your fast answer and the very professional completion of my inquiry!
  • Ich möchte mich bedanken, und zwar bei allen MitarbeiterInnen der Swisscom, für die Leistungen, die sie in den letzten Jahren erbracht haben.
    • I would like to say a personal “thank you” to all Swisscom employees, for everything they have contributed over the past years.

Thanks are often used in business to acknowledge the work of others.

Useful Vocabulary:

sich freuen über — to be happy about something

sich bei jemanden für etwas bedanken — to thank someone for something

Glückwünsche — Congratulatory Wishes

Whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary or a retirement party, congratulatory wishes are something that should be expressed when the occasion presents itself. Here are some typical German congratulatory formulations:

Zu Ihrem… Geburtstag… Geschäftsjubiläumgratuliere ich Ihnen recht herzlich.
Zum …-jährigen Bestehen Ihrer Firma/ Ihres   Unternehmensmöchten wir Ihnen herzlich gratulieren.
Geburtstagsenden wir Ihnen unsere    herzlichsten Glückwünsche.
die herzlichsten Glückwünsche …
herzlichen Glückwunsch.


  • Zu ihrem 58. Geburtstag gratuliere ich Ihnen recht herzlich.
    • Congratulations on your 58th birthday.

Useful Vocabulary:

Geburt, die — birth

Hochzeitstag, der — wedding anniversary

Jubiläum, das — anniversary

Geschäftsjubiläum, das — anniversary of a business

Unternehmen, das — business

Wünsche — Wishes

It is often nice to wish people all the best for their career or in business. This is especially true when it comes to writing recommendation letters. Look at these formulations for expressing wishes in written German communication:

Ich wünscheWir wünschen Ihnen für …(Ihre Firma/ die Zukunft) alles Gutegute Geschäfte
Ich hoffeWir hoffen auf …
 , dass …


  • Wir wünschen Ihnen für die Zukunft alles Gute!
    • We wish you all the best for your future.

Note here that wünschen is a dative verb.

Useful Vocabulary:

Zukunft, die — future

hoffen auf — hope for

Geschäft, das — business

Grüsse — Greetings

Maybe you’ve done an exchange to Switzerland, Austria or Germany and you stayed with a family. You keep regular contact with them and you want to tell them to say “hi” or give your regards to another family member or person you got to know. Here are some useful German formulations for passing on your regards:

Bitte grüssen Sie [Name of person] ganz herzlich von mir.
Bestellen Sie bitte [Name of person] viele/ herzliche Grüsse von mir.
Schöne Grüsse auch an [Name of person]


  • Viele Grüsse an Hanspeter.
    • Give my regards to Hanspeter.

Useful Vocabulary:

Grüsse — greetings, regards

grüssen — to greet, to give regards

bestellenliterally to order, but used with Grüsse to mean “give my regards to”

Beileid — Condolences

This is perhaps the letter topic no one likes to write. When someone passes away, it is appropriate to send your condolences in a letter or card. Here too, you will probably receive a thank you card. For expressing your condolences to the remaining family try using these German expressions:

 Zum Tode von [Name of person]Zum Verlust Ihres/ r [Name / relation of person]Zum plötzlichen Ableben von [Name of person] möchten wirIhnen unser aufrichtiges Beileid aussprechen.
Sie unserer aufrichtigen Anteilnahme versichern


  • Zum Verlust Ihres Grossvaters möchten wir Ihnen unser aufrichtiges Beileid aussprechen.
    • We’d like to offer you our sincere condolences on the passing of your grandfather.

Useful Vocabulary:

zum Tode — on the passing, on the death

zum Verlust + Genitiv — on the loss of

zum plötzlichen Ableben von — on the sudden passing of

Beileid, das — sympathy, condolence

Anteilnahme, die — sympathy

aussprechen — to express

versichern — to assure

These expressions are a good guideline for composing your future communications, or for better understanding any German letters, e-mails, and cards that you may receive. Writing is one of the best things that you can do to improve your German. You might try finding a digital “pen pal” to practice your written German. The more contact you have with these collocations, the more familiar you’ll become with them and the easier you’ll be able to use them.

Two Great Tools to Help You With Your E-Mail Writing

Never guess the gender of German nouns again when you’re writing e-mails. Geniusly highlights your German nouns and tells you if they are masculine (der), feminine (die) or neuter (das). You can also learn basic rules for German genders in our DER DIE DAS post here.

Wabely is another app from the same creators as Geniusly. It let’s you type in English words in a German message and suggests the correct German word.

We can help you learn faster

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