Types of writing styles
The emergence of digital technology has radically changed the way we get in contact by writing. Whether you need to get in touch with a friend, a close family member or a business partner the old fashioned time of writing letters by snail mail has been replaced by more convenient emails, text messages and social media. Although the necessity of letter writing is unchangeable, its form has transitioned almost entirely online. However, the distinction between formal and informal writing still remains as important since it represents the level of our literacy skills.
Informal letters even in the virtual world are more or less the same as those we used to write on paper. Writing to people with whom we are close does not require formality. On the contrary, the more natural they sound the more obvious is the friendly tone. On the other hand, when it comes to formal writing, we often feel uneasiness about the content, the style and the tone of the letter we need to start. Before we begin, we need to know the reason why we are writing. What type of letter do we need to write? Do we know the person we are writing to? Is it about being polite or a bit strict?
The content of formal letters depends on the reason we need to write to someone. We may be looking for information, forward an invitation, ask for a favour or complain on something, the reasons are numerous. Regardless what the reason is, we should keep in mind that the letter must present formality and politeness. All formal letters have a general frame of the content, which means an opening sentence(s), the body of the letter and the closing sentence(s).
The format of formal letters
- Your address in the top right corner-you may include your phone number. The date goes right below this part.
- Start with salutation. If you know the person you refer to him/her as “Estimado señor” /”Muy señor mío” if you refer to a male or “Muy señora mía” if you address a female.
Remembe that in Spanish, after the first phrase you have to put a dot, not a comma.
- Estimado señor. (formal)
- Hola María. (informal)
The opening lines of the letter should indicate the reason of your writing so that the receiver has a clear idea what it is about. For example:
–Le escribo para + INFINITIVO
–El motivo de mi carta es + INFINITIVO
–Le envío la presente carta para + INFINITIVO
–Me pongo en contacto con usted para + INFINITIVO
Let’s say, for instance you are writing in connection with a new product you are launching. You could say:
Le escribo para informarle del lanzamiento de nuestro nuevo producto XXX…
- A positive introduction may be “Me complace informarle de que…” or “Es para mi un placer…“
- If you write a letter of complaint you can say “Quiero expresar mi malestar por… ” / “Considero inaceptable“.
- Or you may wish to send a thank-you letter. In that case you express your intention like “Le estoy muy agradecido por + INFINITIVO / HABER + participio”. “Quiero expresar mi agradecimiento por…” “Quedo, por todo ello, muy agradecido /-a.….” .
In an inquery letter when you need information you may say: “Le escribo para pedirle…” or “Le agradecería mucho que + IMPERFECTO DE SUBJUNTIVO”.
- The body of the letter should contain more information on the subject. This is where you expand your writing. Pay attention to your grammar and spelling rules. Your letter should be well presented and sound respectful even you if you need to complain. Keep it short and stick to the point of your writing.
- End the letter with an expression such as “Sincerely yours” or “Best wishes” or in Spanish “Un cordial saludo” which is also acceptable nowadays. Sign with your full name and surname at the end.
- Make sure your letter has short and clear paragraphs.
By no means, the digital era has made correspondence much easier in terms of time and efficiency. Nevertheless, the composition is a subject to the efficacy and literacy of the sender.
Do you need to write to your clients in Spanish? Hire me to proofread them before you send them.