How to write an email or letter in Basque
Learning to write a letter (or email) in a new language is a great way to become acquainted with the nuances of that language. It also showcases how relationships work in different cultures.
As a native Basque speaker, I put together this guide to help you write letters and emails in Basque, in a wide range of situations:
How to start an email or a letter in Basque
(Note: at the bottom of this article, there is a full example of a letter written in Basque.)
A letter usually begins with the sender’s address written on the top left and the recipient’s address on the top right.
The date comes below the recipient’s address. In Basque, dates are written in the following manner:
« Bilbao, 2001eko maiatzaren 12a »
First comes the place, then the year, month, and day. The letters in bold are suffixes used when writing a date in Basque.
Basque email / letter openings for formal correspondence
Letters and emails start with a greeting. It is important to note that Basque letter or email greetings are followed by a colon instead of a comma, and the first sentence that follows starts with a capital letter.
Here is a list of formal Basque greetings used in letters and emails:
- Jaun/Andre agurgarria:
(«Jaun» is the equivalent of "sir", while «andre» means "madam". «Agurgarria» can be translated as honorable.)
- Jaun/andre agurgarri hori:
- Jaun-andre agurgarriak:
(While almost the same as the previous two greetings, this one is used when addressing more than one person.)
- Bazkide agurgarria:
(This one is used to address members.)
- Guraso agurgarriak:
(This one is used to address parents.)
These greetings can also be more neutral:
- Jaun/Andre hori:
- Bazkide hori:
Basque email/letter openings for informal correspondence
Here is a list of openings which can be used when writing an informal letter or email in Basque:
- Adiskide hori:
- Lagun hori:
All of these greetings are synonyms, and their English translation would be “friend”.
The letter 'k' appearing at the end of some of these greetings is used to indicate plurals, i.e. when the message is addressed to more than one recipient.
The message could also be even more informal and start with a simple «Kaixo!» (meaning: “Hello!”).
How to end an email or letter in Basque
A letter or email usually ends in two parts. First, we state our hopes and intentions and then we say goodbye.
There are several common Basque phrases that can be used:
- ……-(r)ren zain nago
– I am waiting for…
- Eskertzen dizut/dizuet
– I thank you (singular/plural)
- Aldez aurretik eskerrak emanez,
– Thanking you beforehand
- Abagune honetaz baliatuz,
– Making use of this opportunity
- Arazoa laster konponduko duzuelakoan,
– In hopes that the problem will soon be solved
- Gure azalpenak ulertuko dituzuelakoan,
– In hopes that our reasons will be understood
- Elkarrekin berriro lan egingo dugulakoan,
– In hopes that we will work together again
The following Basque phrases can be used to say “goodbye” in a letter or email:
- Agurtzen zaitut,
– I bid farewell
- Adeitasunez, agur
– With politeness, goodbye
- Horrenbestez, agur
– Therefore, bye
- Besterik gabe, agurtzen zaitut
You can also end an email or letter with an additional message, which goes after «Oh.:». Although it looks like an exclamation, it is the abbreviation for «oharra», the equivalent of “postscript” in Basque.
How to end an informal email or letter in Basque
Here are some casual ways to say “goodbye” in an informal Basque message:
- Agur bero bat
– A warm goodbye
- Besarkada bat
– A hug
- Muxu bat
– A kiss
Useful Basque phrases for letters or emails
Here is a list of Basque phrases which are useful when writing letters or emails:
- …dela medio… / …dela bide…
– because of
- -(r)en ondorioz
– As a consequence of
- -(r)en eskariz / -(e)k eskatuta
– At the request of
- …jaso berri dut
– I just received
- …jaso dudala adierazi nahi dut
– I acknowledge receipt of...
- Honekin batera doakizu… / Honekin erantsi dizut…
– I have attached…
- ...eskertu nahi dut…
– I want to thank you for…
- Eskertuko nuke…
– I would appreciate it if...
- -(r)i erantzunez
– In answer to….
- -(r)en arabera
– According to…
- Gure eskuetan…
– It is in our power…
- -(r)i erantzuna eman nahian
– In response to…
- Sentitzen dut
– I am sorry for…
- Zoritxarrez, esan behar dizut…
– Unfortunately, I have to tell you that…
- Erantzunik jaso ez dudanez gero…
– Since I did not get a response…
- Jakin dezazun…
– For your information…
- Jakinaraziko dizut/Jakinaren gainean jarriko zaitigu…
– I will let you know
- Egunean jarri
– To put someone up to date
- Honen bidez…
– By means of
- Ulertuko dituzun arrazoiak direla eta…
– For reasons which you will understand
- ….eskatu nahiko nuke
– I would like to ask for…
- Zuk agindu bezala
– As you ordered
- …zure eskura jartzeko daukat
– I have at your disposal
- -(r)en berri izan
– To be aware of
– I am glad
Specific types of Basque letters
After all of the basics have been laid out, it is time to move on from generic phrases to more specific contexts.
How to write a postcard in Basque
When it comes to the holidays, a lot of Basque people own a house in the nearby provinces of La Rioja or Aragón. It provides a change to a drier and warmer climate, and some of them offer a lot of outdoorsy activities, since they are typically close to some mountains.
Families may also choose to go to the Mediterranean side of Spain, or to campsites, whereas other people prefer to explore unknown countries.
A Basque postcard would begin with a simple greeting, such as saying hello and addressing the person by their first name. If the recipient’s first name were Ane, we would write: «Kaixo Ane».
After the greeting, our postcard can describe where we are writing from. Here are some example phrases in Basque for that:
- Hoteleko gelatik idazten dizut
– I’m writing to you from my hotel room
- Terraza batetik idazten dizut coca-cola bat hartzen dudan bitartean
– I’m writing to you while I drink a coke in a terrace
After that, we can write about our overall impressions of the holiday:
- Primeran pasatzen ari gara
– We are having a great time
- Eguraldia bikaina da
– The weather is wonderful
- Jendez gainezka dago
– It’s full of people
- Tokia oso polita da
– The place is very beautiful
- Lekua oso interesgarria da
– The place is very interesting
- Umeak pozik daude
– The kids are happy
- Hoteletik bista paregabeak daude
– The view from the hotel is amazing
- Janaria oso ona da
– The food is very good (Basque people love eating).
Next, we elaborate on the things we have done while on holiday:
- Ondartzara/Igerilekura joan gara
– We went to the beach/swimming pool
- …a bisitatu dugu
– We visited the…
- Mendian ibili gara
– We’ve been to the mountains
- Erosketa asko egin ditugu
– We’ve done a lot of shopping
- Jende oso atsegina ezagutu dugu
– We’ve met some very nice people
- Parranda asko egin dugu
– We’ve done a lot of partying
Then our postcard can include an anecdote which was the highlight of the trip:
- Bertako bikote bat ezagutu genuen eta beraien etxera gonbidatu gintuzten afaltzera
– We met a local couple and they invited us over for dinner
- Gure maletak galdu zituzten aeroportuan
– They lost our luggage at the airport
- Izurdeekin igeri egin genuen
– We swam with dolphins
- Animali mota asko ikusi genituen
– We saw all kinds of animals
- Galdu egin ginen eta eliza oso polit bat aurkitu genuen
– We got lost and found a beautiful church
Last but not least, we end our Basque postcard with a friendly greeting.
- Muxu bat denon partez
– A kiss from everyone
- Espero dut han dena ondo joatea
– I hope everything’s fine over there
- Besarkada bero bat
– A warm embrace
It is also customary for everyone in the holiday to sign it, as it makes the kids feel involved in the process and they get really excited.
How to write a thank you card in Basque
Thank you cards follow a similar structure to a letter, in the sense that we also need to write a date, a greeting and a farewell. The content however, is different.
Here are some examples phrases which can be useful when writing a thank you card in Basque:
- Jaso ezazu gure eskerrik onena
– Please welcome our most sincere gratitude
- Eskerrik asko egin duzun lanagatik
– Thank you for your work
- Mila esker zuen laguntzagatik
– Thank you very much for your help
- Eskerrik asko zuen arretagatik
– We want to thank you for your assistance
- Eskerrik asko gugan jarri duzuen konfiantzagatik
– Thank you for the trust placed in us
- Eskerrak eman nahi dizkizuegu gure esanetara egotearren
– Thank you for being at our disposal
- Eskerrik asko zure erosketarengatik
– Thank you for your purchase
- Eskerrik asko gure bezeroa izatearengatik
– Thank you for being our customer
Once the gratitude has been expressed, it is time to explain the reason for it:
- Gogoz/gogotik saiatu zarete lanean eta emaitza ezin hobea dela uste dugu
– You have worked very hard and we think the results have really paid off
- Aurten ere gogor lan egin dugu elkarrekin eta hainbat proiektu bete ditugu elkarrekin
– This year we have worked together a lot and managed to complete many successful projects
- Lan aparta egin duzue gure enpresarako
– You have done an excellent job for our business
- Espero dugu izugarri gozatzea
– We hope that you really enjoy it
How to write a birthday card in Basque
«Zorionak zuri, zorionak beti…»
Writing down the beginning of the birthday song is one of the options to start a birthday card in Basque.
Basque people tend to be very warm when expressing their love to others, so it is important to maintain this tone, unless we want to sound cold and distant.
Here are some examples of phrases which can be used when writing a birthday card in Basque:
– Happy birthday!
- Bihotz-bihotzez egun zoragarria opa dizugu
– We wish from the heart that you will have a great day
- Gaur zure egun berezia dela eta, besarkada bero bat bidaltzen dizugu
– Since it is your special day, we send you a warm embrace
- Urte askotan horrelaxe jarraitu dezazula
– “We hope that you stay like this for long”. Although its literal translation does not sound well in English, it is common for Basque people to wish for health and longevity.
– Kisses. This could be used to end the card.
What to write in a Basque wedding card
There are many ways to phrase a wedding invitation. They usually involve the name of the couple, the date, and the place of the event. However, much of the rest is freestyle.
Here are some ideas of the types of phrases that can be useful when writing a wedding card in Basque:
- Atsegin handiz gure ezkontzara gonbidatzen zaituztegu
– It is a great pleasure to invite you to our wedding
- Pozik ikusiko zaituztegu gure ezkontzen
– We will be happy to see you in our wedding
- Azkenean jarri diogu data gure ospakizun bereziari
– We finally set a date for our special celebration
- Zuek bertan egotea gustatuko litzaiguke
– We would like you to be there
- Etortzekoak bazarete, aldez aurretik jakinarazi
– If you are to come, let us know in advance.
- Etorriko zaretelakoan
– In hopes that you come.
Basque email/letter example
Here is an example email / letter written in Basque, followed by its translation:
Donostian, 2022ko urtarrilaren 21a
Mikel izena dut eta Aran Kirol Taldearen izenean idazten dizut. Jaso dugu abenduaren 29an bidalitako materiala, baina guztia aztertu ondoren, badugu zurekin argitu beharreko kontu bat.
Izan ere, gaur jasotako materialaren artean eskatu ez genituen kamisetak topatu ditugu, eta gainera ordaindu ere egin ditugu.
Gutun honen bitartez, jakinarazi nahi dizuegu materiala berriro bueltatuko dizuegula paketearen helbidera. Horrez gain, kamisetengatik kobratu diguzuen diru-kopurua itzultea ere eskatzen dizuegu, kontu berdinera.
Aldez aurretik eskerrak emanez,
Mikel Agirre IDAZKARIA
Donostia, 21 January 2022
My name is Mikel and I am writing in the name of the Aran Sports Team. We received the material sent on December 29th. However, after having a closer look, we need to make some things clear.
The truth is that we found some t-shirts that we did not ask for, and we have also paid for them.
Through this letter, we want to let you know that we will return the material to the address that comes on the package. Moreover, we ask for a refund on the money that you charged us for the extra t-shirts, all to the same bank account.
Thank you in advance,
Mikel Agirre, SECRETARY
Written language is in a way more complex than oral language since the lack of tone or facial expressions can lead to more misunderstandings. That is why it is important to be prepared for any kind of situation.
Whether it is a birthday, a wedding, a holiday, or an everyday issue, you now have the tools to navigate Basque society.
For more on vocabulary and pronunciation, see this article: “Basque language: Cool, Beautiful, and Useful Words & Phrases”.
Editor's note: You can use our free language tool to make your own vocabulary lists, and record your own phrases.