How to Write an email (or letter) in Catalan

When visiting Spain, many tourists discover in awe that Spanish is not the only language spoken in the country. While Spanish remains the predominant and official language as defined in the constitution, Spain is undeniably a fascinating fusion of languages and dialects.

This becomes obvious as you move from one region to the other. There’s the mysterious tongue of the Basque countries, the Portuguese-infused Galician in the northwest, and a curious mixture of Spanish and French in the northeast. We are talking, of course, about Catalan.

Architecture by Gaudi in Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona

Learning some basic rules on how to write a simple e-mail could be an excellent way to get introduced to this not-so-known language. For this purpose, we’ve put together our best advice on how to write an email or a letter in Catalan. May this article help you in your Catalonian adventures!

What is Catalan exactly?

Catalan is the second official language in several North-eastern Spanish regions. It comprises several accepted dialects and variations, as well as nearly 10 million speakers in total.

It has an obvious French influence. Most Spanish speakers, however, will probably understand many Catalan words too, as they are often grammatically similar to their Spanish counterparts.

Depending on the region, Catalan can vary into a series of dialects with slight differences between them. For simplicity purposes, we are focusing this article on standard Catalan as it is spoken in Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, and other regions of Catalonia.

How to start an email or letter in Catalan

Just like Spanish and other European languages, Catalan marks a distinction between the formal and the informal "you" pronoun (respectively, Vostè and “Tu”). It is always a good idea to start an e-mail or a letter by properly greeting the recipient, so let’s look at some ways to do this in Catalan:

“Hola!” (Hello!)

Simple, but effective! This is a perfectly fine way to start an e-mail addressed to friends, colleagues, and even some businesses or transactions where a big deal of formality is not expected. Alternatively, we can start with a question like « com estàs? » or « com va tot? » (“How are you? How’s everything going?”).

“Hola a Tothom!” (Hi, everybody!)

When addressing to several people at once, this formula is always friendly and elegant. You can combine the word « tothom » with a question, as proposed in the previous point, or use another simple way to say hello such as « Bon dia a tothom » (“Good Morning to Everybody”).

“Estimat senyor /Estimada senyora [Cognom]”
(Dear Mr./Mrs. [Last Name])

An ideal opening for formal communications, such as those related to business or bureaucracy. It is important to pay attention to gender in Catalan, as most nouns are affected by it. Of course, it is possible to abbreviate both « senyor » (Sr.) and « senyora » (Sra.). An even more formal and respectful variation of this introduction would be « distingit senyor/distingida senyora” ».

Stating the purpose of your email in Catalan

Having properly greeted our recipient, it is time to move on to the purpose of our letter or e-mail. Using a short first paragraph to do this is a good way to structure our message. Here’s some ideas to briefly convey the reason of our communication in Catalan:

“Li escric aquest missatge per…”
(“I’m writing this message to you because…”).

This is both polite and straight to the point when requesting information, applying for a new job, establishing commercial relationships, and so on. We can always switch to « T’escric aquest missatge per… » when looking for a less formal language.

“Fa molt temps que no sé de tu!”
(“Haven’t heard from you in a long time!”).

Ideal for those friends who, for one reason or another, we only get to see once in a blue moon. If you are a frequent traveler, or if you like to establish relationships all over the world, you will probably know that feeling!

“Voldria demanar…”
(“I would like to request…”).

Again, a formal solution for those e-mails and letters in which the sender is trying to obtain information, or perhaps to manage a service or subscription. The use of « voldria » is the polite indicator here, and you can always replace it by similar verbs like « m’agradaria » or « desitjaria ».

“Soc [Nom], ens vam conèixer a…”
(“I’m [First Name], we met each other at…”).

It may happen that the recipient was not necessarily expecting our e-mail. In this case, it would be appropriate to introduce ourselves and/or remind the other person how this relationship started.

Catalan email writing tips for 3 different contexts

Of course, the number of topics and circumstances to discuss in an email or letter are way too many to include here. However, we’ve put together some of the most common subjects you may find in a Catalan email, altogether with some sentences to help you along the way.

1) When writing to a friend or a relative

In this case, you will rely in a non-formal language and focus on sharing experiences with a familiar tone. You may even address the other person with expressions such as « noi/noia » or « tio/tia », which are friendly, non-formal equivalents of “man/girl” in Catalan.

To talk about how our holidays are going, for example, we might say:

2) When writing to ask for information

When contacting an organization or institution for information, we will ideally keep a more serious tone. Some frequent questions you may write in cases like these are:

3) When writing to apply for a job

Let’s push the envelope a little more and imagine ourselves in a situation like this, where both formality and professionalism is expected:

How to end an email (or letter) in Catalan

Saying goodbye with a short sentence is always a nice touch to an email. Once again, we might want to consider how formal or not our message is, but there are several expressions that work very well as a general closure for an email:

“Molts records”
(“Kind Regards”).

Using the expression «Molts records» is possibly the most common way to end an email in Catalan, when it is written to a friend, a relative, or simply someone you wish well. It is simple but elegant, and serves as a nice closure on many occasions.

“Fins aviat!”
(“See you soon!”).

If we are expecting to meet this person soon, this is a good way to indicate that we are looking forward to that event. It also closes the email in a more than adequate manner. Two birds with one stone!

“T’estimo molt”
(“I love you very much”).

When writing to a loved one, you’ll want to end the message on a tender note. For an extra mark of emphasis, use the superlative « moltíssim » to indicate how very, very, very much you love them!

“Cordialment / Atentament”

You can resort to these two for a formal, professional closure. There are even more cordial and sophisticated options to do this in Catalan, however. For example, when addressing a group or an institution, you could write « rebeu una salutació ben cordial », which can be translated as “My most cordial greeting to you”.

Other useful Catalan email phrases

There is a plethora of sentences and expressions than can be used in both formal and non-formal Catalan emails. We’ve done our best to compile some of the most useful ones. Enjoy!

Architecture by Gaudi in Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona

Additional tips for writing emails

Now that we have learned several Catalan phrases to use, let’s remember some general and useful things to consider when writing a letter or an e-mail.

1. Include a simple subject line. Your recipient will certainly appreciate it, as we all know the feeling of having an overloaded inbox. Add a subject line that is both short and relevant. It may be even enough by writing one or two key words as a title.

2. Do not be overly formal (nor informal!). Just like Spaniards, Catalans have a reputation for being generally warm and outgoing. There is a distinctive 2nd person in Catalan (“vosté”) which is equivalent to the polite “usted” in Spanish. However, unless your communication requires the utmost respect (applying for a job or writing to an elderly person), you can use the more friendly “tu”.

3. Choose a proper closing remark. Remember that certain ways to sign-off a message are more appropriate than others. Same thing could be said about the salutation of the e-mail. When in doubt, use a simple formula that is generally polite, such as « salutacions » (“greetings”) or « Molts records » (“kind regards”).

4. Keep it concise if you can. Most people spend enough time reading from screens in today’s world. Consider keeping the amount of words to a minimum whenever possible, and avoid writing excessively long sentences.

When writing a letter, remember adding the date (following a DD/month/YY structure) at the beginning, as well as your signature in the end. You can always add a postscript (in Catalan, P.D.) for that last thing you wanted to say.

We hope that this article was helpful and that, at the very least, you have acquired some basic tools for a written communication in Catalan. Stay tuned for more tips on this beautiful yet relatively unknown language, and don’t forget to try «botifarra» and «pa amb tomàquet» if you ever visit Catalonia!

PS: you can use our free language tool, VocabChat to create and record your own Catalan vocabulary and phrase lists.