Nowadays, emails are one of the most common forms of communication in all sectors. You might need to write one to ask for information, make a reservation, contact a professor, or apply for a job.
In this article, we’ll look at how to write an email in Italian, be it formal or informal.
Sounds complicated? Don’t worry, it won’t be if you follow these simple steps!
Step 1: Structure and Subject
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that an email is a text with a structure.
If you organize it into short paragraphs and you use the right opening and closing formulas, you are already halfway there.
Writing (and reading) an email doesn’t actually start with the email itself, have you ever noticed? It starts with the subject you read before even opening the message!
So remember, never overlook the subject of an email! It is an essential part of every communication and it will be the first thing the recipient sees and reads.
If badly written or absent, it could get no attention, give a bad impression or worse, make your email look like spam! And you do not want your message to go straight to the bin, do you?
So, be clear and concise and explain in a few words the reason why you’re writing.
Step 2: Formula di apertura, Greetings and Titles
The opening greetings (formula di apertura) can change a lot depending on who you are writing to. If you are addressing a friend or someone you know well, you can use Caro/Cara (Dear) or a simple Ciao (Hi).
If you do not know the person you’re writing to, for example when you ask for information or for a job application, you can use one of the following adjectives followed by the title* of the person you are addressing, or their surname preceded by the abbreviation Sig. (Signore – Mr.) or Sig.ra (Signora – Mrs.).
- Gentile direttore/ Gentile insegnante – Dear director/ Dear teacher
- Gentile Sig. Bellini / Gentile Sig.ra Bellini – Dear Mr. Bellini / Dear Mrs. Bellini
Gentile (lit. kind, gentle) is a slightly more formal version of “caro/cara” and is widely used in all sectors.
- Egregio direttore/ Egregio professore / Egregia professoressa – Dear director/ Dear teacher
- Egregio Sig. Bellini/ Egregia Sig.ra Bellini – Dear Mr. Bellini / Dear Mrs. Bellini
These are very formal and are mainly found in official communication. Remember to pay attention to the gender agreement!
- With the name of a business, use Spettabile (Respectable). For example: Spettabile Scuola di Italiano.
- It is becoming increasingly common to start emails with a simple Buongiorno (good morning/afternoon) or Buonasera (Good evening). These can be considered a middle ground between a very informal Ciao and the more formal addressing Gentile, and are a great go-to when you don’t know the reader’s name or gender!
*Italians love their titles, so it is important to mention them, even in an email! If the addressee has a title you know of, use these abbreviations:
- Dott. / ssa (dottore / dottoressa – a doctor or anyone with a degree)
- Avv. (avvocato – lawyer),
- Ing. (ingegnere – engineer),
- Arch. (architetto – architect),
- Rag. (ragioniere – accountant)
Step 3: Introduction and Main Body
At this point, you can introduce yourself:
- Sono Michael.
- Mi chiamo Allison Bay.
- Mi chiamo Robert Nash e sono un ingegnere elettronico.
Then, if you’re writing an informal email, you can thank the other person for their previous correspondence:
- Grazie per la tua email – Thanks for your email
- Sono stata molto contenta di ricevere la tua email – I was very happy to get your email
- Scusa se non ho risposto prima, sono stata molto impegnata – I’m sorry I didn’t answer before, I was very busy
If, on the other hand, you’re writing a more formal message, after introducing yourself (if you want and it is required by the context) make a short point on why you are writing and/or what you are writing about. You can use the following phrases:
- Le scrivo in riferimento al nostro incontro– I am writing with regard to our meeting
- Le scrivo in riferimento al colloquio telefonico– I am writing with regard to our phone call
- Come anticipato nella mail precedente / telefonicamente– as stated in previous mail / call
- In risposta alla Sua mail… – answering your email
Then comes the body, which is the main part of your email. Here you can explain your reason for writing in more detail. In an informal letter, just write what you want, this is the time for open communication!
In a formal context, you can say:
- Con la presente comunico… – I am writing with regard to…
- Con la presente, scrivo per presentare la mia candidatura per il posto di (job position) presso (company) – I am writing to apply to the job position…
- Le scrivo perché vorrei delle informazioni su… – I am writing because I would like some information about…
And remember, if you have an attachment, don’t forget to mention it!
- In allegato invio… – please find in attachment
- Allego… – I am attaching
Step 4: Conclusion and Closing Greetings
To conclude a formal communication, use one of the following formulas. They all stand for the English “I am looking forward to hearing from you” and, even if they have slightly different literal meanings, they all serve the same purpose.
- In attesa di riscontro, resto a disposizione per chiarimenti e porgo cordiali saluti.
- In attesa di un Suo cortese riscontro
- Ringraziando per l’attenzione
Followed by one of these Italian formal salutations or formule di congedo, which stand for the English sincerely or warm regards.
- Distinti Saluti
- Cordiali Saluti
In an informal conclusion, you can just end the email with something like:
- Fammi sapere (Let me know);
- Un abbraccio (A hug);
- A presto (Write soon).
Write an email in Italian today!
Who will be the lucky one to receive an email in Italian from you?
A friend? A colleague? A relative? A lover?
There’s a lot to write about. Can you put it in writing now?
In any case, writing is an email is an excellent way to practice your writing skills.
Don’t worry about minor mistakes. It’s not an exam, you want to communicate.