How to write an email in Serbian: the complete guide

From greetings to sign-offs, this guide will cover how to write an email (or a letter) in Serbian.

As a native Serbian speaker, I will explain Serbian email etiquette and the differences between formal and informal correspondence in Serbian.

Plenty of example phrases will be provided - for both formal and informal - Serbian email writing.

Starting an email or letter in Serbian

The Serbian language uses a digraphic writing system. This means that it has two scripts – Cyrillic and Latin.

The Cyrillic script is used for official Serbian documents, so it can be useful to learn this script. For example, if one needs to apply for a visa or submit documents to the country’s institutions.

However, the Serbian Latin script is even more in use in business, online, and many other settings.

The Serbian language phrases appearing as examples in this article are provided in both the Latin and the Cyrillic script.

Serbian formal email/letter openings

After the opening line, you put a comma. The next line starts with a word written with a capital letter.

The following ways of addressing persons when you don’t know their last names are:

Male: Poštovani gospodine (Поштовани господине) – Dear Sir/Mr.
(The Serbian word “Poštovani” here corresponds to the English word “Dear”, although its literal translation is “Respected”)

Female: Poštovana gospođo (Поштована госпођо) – Dear Madam/Ms. It can also have meaning – the married woman (Mrs.) if that information is relevant in the correspondence.

The term for unmarried woman, « gospođica » (госпођица) – “Miss.” should be avoided unless the recipient explicitly expresses her wish to be addressed in that way.

If you don’t know the gender, title, or other information about the recipient(s), then you can use one of the following greetings:

However, it is best to invest some time in finding more about the recipient, for example, their profession or last name.

When you know the profession or the last name of your recipient, these can be used in the email or letter greeting, as the following examples show:

Poštovani gospodine predsedniče (Поштовани господине прeдседниче)
– Dear Mr. President
-- or -- Poštovani predsedniče (Поштовани прeдседниче)
– Dear President
Poštovana gospođo direktorka (Поштована госпођо директорка)
– Dear Ms. Director
-- or -- Poštovana direktorka (Поштована директорка)
– Dear Director

The use of the Vocative case in Serbian email & letter greetings

In the case where you know the recipient’s name, you can use following rules to apply the vocative case. (see also reference [1])

Male last names

Male last names ending with -ić (-ић) are in the vocative case and get the suffix –u (-у):

Poštovani gospodine Simiću (Поштовани господине Симићу) – Dear Mr. Simic

Other male last names that don’t end with -ić (-ић) typically stay the same just like they are in their nominative case:

Poštovani direktore Drobac (Поштовани директоре Дробац) – Dear Director Drobac
Female last names

Their vocative case is like their nominative case. There is no change in endings.

Poštovana doktorka Adamov, Savić... (Поштована докторка Адамов, Савић... ) – Dear Doctor Adamov, Savic…

Being polite with Vi (Ви) pronoun

In business correspondence, it is common to use a Vi (Ви) pronoun while addressing one person. Vi (Ви) pronoun is the 2nd person plural (You). It is written with a capital first letter in all cases. When addressing more than one person, write it with a lowercase letter.

Uvaženi kolega Miliću, Primili smo Vaš zahtev i odgovorićemo Vam u najkraćem mogućem roku.

The same example, but written in the Cyrillic script:

Уважени колегa Милићу,

Примили смо Ваш захтев и одговорићемо Вам у најкраћем могућем року.

The translation:

Dear colleague Milic, We have received your request and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

Addressing a group of people

Poštovani članovi Odbora, Hvala vam što ste pregledali moju prijavu i što ste mi pružili vaš stručni savet o...
Поштовани чланови Одбора, Хвала вам што сте прегледали моју пријаву и што сте ми пружили ваш стручни савет о...
Dear Committee Members, Thank you for reviewing my application and for providing me with your expert advice on…

Besides the most commonly used Poštovani/a(Поштовани/а) expressions, you can use Uvaženi/a (Уважени/а) or Cenjeni/a (Цењени/а) – Reputable/Respected.

The latter can be used in circular emails or when sending formal emails to official institutions or organizations.

Formal email or letter main parts

The formal written style needs to contain precise and concise expressions and information. Instead of the colloquial and conversational words and phrases, use formal and appropriate vocabulary.

Make sure that you break the formal email or letter content into a few paragraphs. In the first one, you bring out the reason for addressing the recipient and what you want. Also, here you can remind the recipient about your previous communication if you have had it with them or how you found out their contact.

The important information about the topic of your email or letter is usually in the second paragraph.

In the last paragraph, you express your expectations and thank-you phrases. You can add phrases stating your openness to further assistance, cooperation, etc.

Serbian formal email /letter endings

Here are some examples of formal email or letter endings:

After signing off your email or letter, you use a comma and write your first and last name.

S poštovanjem, Joe Citizen

Also, below your name, you can add your job title, company name, and other contact details.

Enclosures/attachments

Enclosures or attachments are below the content of your email or letter. Specify what type of document it is. Here are some examples.

• A letter with an enclosure
U prilogu Vam dostavljam moj predlog projekta. (У прилогу Вам достављам мој предлог пројекта.) Please find my project proposal enclosed. -- or -- Prilog (Прилог): Predlog projekta (Предлог пројекта) – Enclosure: Project proposal
• An email with an attachment
U prilogu možete pronaći moj sertifikat. (У прилогу можете пронаћи мој сертификат.) Please find my certificate attached. -- or -- Prilog (Прилог): Sertifikat (Сертификат) – Attachment: Certificate

If you want to highlight certain experiences or parts of your attached documents, you can do it in this way:

U priloženim dokumentima pronaći ćete... (У приложеним документима пронаћи ћете)...
In the attached documents, you will find...
In the enclosed documents, you will find…

How to write an informal email or letter in Serbian

Serbian informal email/letter openings

When you write an email or letter to your friend, relative, or someone close to you can use informal language.

The first two salutations are also used frequently in spoken conversations.

Rember to use the vocative grammatical case:

Writing to a group of people:

Serbian informal email/letter endings

Here is a list of common informal sign-off phrases, for ending an email or letter written in Serbian:

Serbian email etiquette: to whom you are writing is important

Note that the workplace hierarchy, social distance, relationship, and age also play roles in addressing someone appropriately.

In informal writing, young people can use slang words and phrases that may be inappropriate or unknown to older people. If you are writing to people older than you, then use the 2nd person plural for showing respect to them. Here’s an example for the closing line:

Sve najbolje vama i vašoj porodici (Све најбоље вама и вашој породици) – All the best to you and your family

Some of them may want to be addressed in a more friendly and casual way. Usually, they will tell you that it’s OK to address them with ”ti(ти)” – you-pronoun. From their emails, you can see the tone, style, and language they use and respond to them accordingly.

In internet communication, sometimes you can notice a mixture of formal and informal styles. For example, you can have formal opening lines and informal closing lines.

The university students who write to their professor use the formal opening lines such as ”Poštovana profesorice Pavić (Поштована професорице Павић)” – Dear/Respected Professor Pavic, ”Poštovana profesorice (Поштована професорице)” – Dear/Respected Professor.

Also, you can find the less formal style that denotes a certain level of closeness in а student-teacher relationship: ”Draga profesorice (Драга професорице)” – Dear Professor, etc. The professor can address their students in this way:

Specific types of Serbian letters

In the digital age, print cards are used rarely or for some special occasions such as New Year, Christmas, weddings, and so on. Here are some useful phrases that you can use in your print or e-cards:

How to write a postcard in Serbian

Most postcards include informal salutations and phrases. Here is an example of a postcard written in Serbian:

Dragi Gorane, Šaljem ti puno toplih pozdrava sa Tare. Tvoja Milka

Here is the same Serbian postcard example, but written with the Cyrillic script:

Драги Горане, Шаљем ти пуно топлих поздрава са Таре. Твоја Милка

Here is the Translation of the Serbian postcard example:

Dear Goran, I send you a lot of warm greetings from Tara. (Tara Mountain) Your Milka

How to write New Year and Christmas greeting cards in Serbian

When writing New Year and Christmas greeting cards in Serbian, the following phrases can be useful:

How to write a thank you card in Serbian

Thank you cards are not so common in Serbian culture. However, it shouldn’t stop you from expressing your gratitude through them or in some other manner.

Here are some Serbian phrases for writing a thank you card in Serbian:

How to write a birthday card in Serbian

Here are some example phrases which are useful for writing a birthday card in Serbian:

What do you write in a Serbian wedding card?

Here are some Serbian phrases which are useful when writing a Serbian wedding card:

Serbian email / letter example

The following Serbian email example concerns the booking of a hotel room. The first example is written with the Serbian Latin script, the second example is written with Serbian Cyrillic script, and finally the translation is provided in English.

Serbian email example using the Latin script

Poštovani menadžeru za rezervacije, Želeo bih da rezervišem jednokrevetnu sobu za dva noćenja sa doručkom 18. i 19. jula. Da li hotel ima parking za automobile gostiju? Imam promotivni kod (BT8922). Molim Vas, možete li da mi potvrdite popust od 20% na moju rezervaciju? Molim Vas, možete li da mi potvrdite šta je sve uključeno u Vašu ponudu? Javite mi ako su Vam potrebne bilo kakve dodatne informacije. Hvala puno. Srdačan pozdrav, Steven Kay

Serbian email example using the Cyrillic script:

Поштовани менаџеру за резервације, Желео бих да резервишем једнокреветну собу за два ноћења са доручком 18. и 19. јула. Да ли хотел има паркинг за аутомобиле гостију? Имам промотивни код (БТ8922). Молим Вас, можете ли да ми потврдите попуст од 20% на моју резервацију. Молим Вас, можете ли да ми потврдите шта је све укључено у Вашу понуду. Јавите ми ако су Вам потребне било какве додатне информације. Хвала пуно. Срдачан поздрав, Steven Kay

Translation of the Serbian email example:

Dear Reservation Manager, I would like to book a single room for two nights with breakfast on the 18 and 19 of July. Does the hotel have a parking lot for guest cars? I have a promotional code (BT8922). Please can you confirm a 20% discount on my booking? Please can you confirm what is included in your offer? Let me know if you need any further information. Many thanks. Kind regards, Steven Kay
Conclusion

By understanding your recipients and following the tips from this article, you’ll be able to write effective emails or letters.

The following question can be like a reminder for you: What do you want to create each time you send an email or letter to your recipient? So, the one thing is for sure, writing clear, concise, and properly constructed messages can leave the desired impact on your recipients.

References:
  1. [1] Recognition of Personal Names in Serbian Texts - HAL archives-ouvertes.fr