Salut / Bonjour / Bonsoir in emails

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Dodge_J, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. Dodge_J New Member

    Seattle, WA
    Hello! I'm curious about the greeting to give in relatively formal emails in French, such as to a professor or other professional. In English, we start with "Hello (Name)", "Hi (Name)", or just "(Name)" on the top line, then typically add a few lines and write our message.

    In French, I've only seen "Salut (Name)" as the first line. Could someone use "Bonjour..." here also, or would it be inappropriate because emails are not restricted to simply the day? (Hence "good day" wouldn't work.) On the other hand, if that was acceptable, if it was nighttime while you were writing the email, could you write "Bonsoir"?

    Merci d'advance!
  2. Khandoma

    Khandoma Senior Member

    French (France)
    Well, for what it's worth : my mom's a college teacher, and the first time a student sent her an email starting with "Bonjour", she went into a fit, finding the guy incredibly bad-mannered. So, since then, I stick to "Cher professeur (last name)" when dealing with teachers, and "Cher monsieur (last name)" or "Cher (first + last name)", in my initial contacts with professionals, after which I just use what they use.
  3. Dodge_J New Member

    Seattle, WA
    Excellent! Merci pour les suggestions. Donc, pensez-vous que "Salut..." est mal élevé aussi?
  4. Khandoma

    Khandoma Senior Member

    French (France)
    Ah, c'est encore pire ! More colloquial than "bonjour", I'd suggest you use it only with friends, coworkers, pen pals...
  5. tannen2004 Senior Member

    I'll second Khandoma's advice. This is often a major pet peeve of professors in both French and English. (If I have one more student write me an e-mail that start with "Hey..." I think I'm gonna scream... and I'm no stodgy old professor!)

    In my experience "Cher/Chère" is the greeting one should use in a more formal setting (professors, people you don't know, etc.). "Bonjour"/"Salut" (which is the equivalent of the dreaded "hey") is fine for less formal emails (amongst students, colleagues, friends, etc.).

    When in doubt with e-mail, write as if you were writing a formal, handwritten letter.
  6. Dodge_J New Member

    Seattle, WA
    Thanks! This is excellent info as (apparently) my summer profs. of French at the UW were very informal (having us use "tu" instead of "vous" when talking to them and writing emails with "Salut...") but I don't know how my upcoming professors will be.
  7. Cindé Senior Member

    Zaragoza, Spain
    Français - France
    "Salut" would be very colloquial but "bonjour" is very commonly used in formal emails. People often use it to write to teachers or other professionals. (Never seen "bonsoir" however, because you don't know when it will be read i suppose)

    Conventions for emails are not as strict as for letters.

    Indeed, you can end then with a simple "Cordialement" instead of the "Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l'expression de mes salutations les meilleures"

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