Portuguese is, as some would say, quite a casual language, but we still apply some formality when dealing with important matters. Writing formally in this peculiar language may seem hard at first, but with practice, it does get easier.
Many reasons might require you to write a formal email in Portuguese, getting ready to study overseas, applying for a job position, or even searching for business partners in a Portuguese-speaking country.
To help you out with this task, here are some pointers to keep in mind when constructing such formal pieces of written communication in this language.
A warm greeting is a must when writing emails in Portuguese. Whether it's a formal or informal message, not greeting the recipient is considered quite offensive by Portuguese speakers. But don't worry, the expressions below will help you with that, let's check them out.
If the receiver is a friend, peer or someone that is considered to be close to you somehow, the email can start with a simple “Olá” (Hello) plus the name of the person.
E.g., Olá, João (Hello, João)
If there isn’t enough of a relationship between the sender and the sendee for a warmer greeting, it’s convenient to go with “Prezado(a)”, plus the person's title and first name.
As you can notice, personal titles are usually followed by the first name of the person, and not the last one like in English; they are also categorized into masculine and feminine, so to avoid inelegance, it’s important to be careful of which gender to use.
If the name of the addressee is not certain, we usually use the expression “a quem possa interessar”. For Portuguese speakers, this is a formal, and polite initiation. It is equivalent to the expression “to whom it may concern,” and you won’t go wrong using it as an introduction for your formal email text.
Many of us like to use greetings such as good morning (bom dia) or alike, in formal texts, but some Portuguese linguists wouldn’t recommend it, that’s due to the fact that the sender has no control over the time at which the message will be read, and this could lead you into possible awkward situations.
To avoid these little inconveniences, you can apply alternative personal titles to convey courtesy, just like a warm good morning would do. Here you can see three of the most common ones:Sr. (Mr.)
Used for male receivers, this term reflects respect. If you want to show politeness but you see that there’s a slight relationship distance between you and the reader, use this personal title to talk to them.Sra. (Ms. / Mrs.)
This has the same significance and purpose as the previous personal title, but for women. This is a respectful title used to talk to women who are older than you (married or not) or just married (regardless of their age).Srta. (Ms.)
This title is used when writing to young women who aren’t married.
Introducing oneself in a formal email text in Portuguese is pretty easy, the reason is because some of the terms used for such means are present in both formal and informal versions of the language. You just need to state your name and occupation (if applicable).
E.g., Me chamo Lucas, sou estudante de Direito. (I’m called Lucas. I’m a law student.)
Once you greet the person and introduce yourself, you might want to use some expressions to reinforce politeness and formality. I've hand-picked some of them for you.Como o senhor está?
This is a formal way of saying “How are you?” In Portuguese, note that when you start an email giving a certain personal title to the sendee, the rest of the text has to be in accordance to it, so we write “senhor” for “Sr.”, “senhora” for “Sra.” and “senhorita” for “Srta”.Como você está?
If you haven’t utilized any title, simply use the word “você” (you).Espero que esteja tendo um ótimo dia.
Offering good wishes is always a plus in formal writings; the expression above literally means “I hope you are having a great day.”Obrigado(a) pelo seu email.
(“Thank you for your email”) Use this expression if you want to show gratitude towards the sender.Perdão pela demora em responder. (I apologize for the delay in responding) Escrevo esse email para… (I’m emailing you to…) É um prazer entrar em contato com o senhor. (It's a pleasure talking to you) Segue em anexo… (Find attached)
If you attach any files, It’s important to let the receiver know that you did so. Start the sentence with the expression above plus the description of what the file is.
E.g., Segue em anexo o documento solicitado. (Find attached the requested document)
If we picture an email correspondence in English, we see that there are words that aren’t usually used in our everyday speech, such as «yours truly», or «sincerely».
The Portuguese language has its own versions of those. We call them “frases de encerramento” (sign-off sentences). Some of them are similar to English, and others not quite so.Atenciosamente
This expression can be literally translated as “attentively.” When signing off with it, you imply that the subject discussed between you and the receiver is receiving special attention from you, and you consider it important.Aguardo sua resposta
As for this one, we have a similar equivalent in English, “looking forward to hearing from you,” you usually use it to let the receiver know that his response will be pretty much appreciated.Cordialmente
This expression translates as “sincerely” in English and conveys pretty much the same value, so its use is considered adequate if you just want to show courtesy towards the receiver.Obrigado(a) (Thank you)
Be careful with this sign-off; many language learners get confused about whether to use obrigado or obrigada, as they mistakenly think that the word should agree in gender with the receiver, but it’s the reverse, this term must always agree in gender with the sender. For instance, if you are a male, you should write «obrigado», while females should write «obrigada».
It is also important to have a broader view of what a formal email in Portuguese looks like, so let’s look at the example below:
Prezado Sr. Marcos,
Como o senhor está?
Escrevo-lhe para solicitar informações sobre o pacote de viagem e curso de Português que a sua escola de idiomas está oferecendo para estudantes estrangeiros. Gostaria de saber se há algum booklet digital explanatório, se sim, poderia enviá-lo para mim? Agradeço desde já.
Aguardo sua resposta,
Dear Mr. Marcos,
How are you? I am writing to request information about the package holidays plus Portuguese course that your language school is offering for foreign students. I would like to know if there is any digital explanatory booklet, if so, would you be so kind as to send it to me? Thanks in advance.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Even native speakers with strong knowledge of Portuguese grammar can slip up sometimes, so it’s important to consistently keep practicing. One can also ask a friend or a teacher to review their work, since a second eye is always welcome when it comes to reviewing formal texts.
This was a short guide on how to write a formal email in Portuguese. Following these tips will give the knowledge you need to email Portuguese native speakers in an accurate and formal way.
Editor's note: You can use our free language tool to make your own vocabulary lists, and record your own phrases.