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 recipient is a friend, colleague, or someone with whom you have a close relationship, you may start the email with a simple “Olá” (Hello) followed by the person’s name. For instance: “Olá, João” (Hello, João).
If there isn’t enough of a relationship between the sender and the recipient for a warmer greeting, it’s convenient to go with “Prezado(a)” along with the recipient’s title and first name.
As you may have noticed, in Portuguese, personal titles are typically followed by the first name of the individual rather than their last name, as in English. Additionally, these titles are classified into masculine and feminine categories, so it’s crucial to be mindful of the appropriate gender to avoid impoliteness.
If the recipient’s name is unknown, we typically use the expression “a quem possa interessar.” This is a formal and polite way for Portuguese speakers to initiate communication, equivalent to the English phrase “to whom it may concern.” This would be appropriate and effective as an introduction to your formal email text.
While many of us like to use greetings such “good morning” (bom dia) or similar phrases in our formal texts, some Portuguese linguists advise against it because the sender cannot predict the exact time at which the message will be read, which could result in 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.)
The honorific “Sr.” is employed in Portuguese to address male recipients. It is a sign of respect. If you want to be polite but feel that there is some distance in your relationship with the recipient, using this personal title to address them is appropriate.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 address to women who are older than the sender (married or unmarried) or those who are married, irrespective of their age.Srta. (Ms.)
This title is used when writing to young women who aren’t married.
Introducing oneself in a formal email in Portuguese is relatively straightforward because some of the terms used for such purposes are present in both formal and informal versions of the language. All you need to do is mention your name and, if applicable, your occupation.
For example: “Me chamo Lucas, sou estudante de Direito.” (I am Lucas, and I am 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, when you begin an email by addressing the recipient with a particular personal title, 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 recipient 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 recipient 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 recipient 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 recipient.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 recipient, 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 women 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 inquire about the package holidays and Portuguese courses that your language school is currently offering to foreign students. I would like to know if there is a 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 proficient speakers of Portuguese may make mistakes sometimes, so it’s essential to practice consistently. Having a friend or teacher review your work is also helpful since a second pair of eyes is always beneficial when reviewing formal texts.
This concise guide offers recommendations for composing formal emails in Portuguese. Following these tips will give you the tools to communicate with Portuguese speakers precisely and formally through email.