Letter closings: German vs English

Letter closings: German vs English

As a follow-up to my previous post on subtle but important differences in writing letters in German and English, see here, I would like to discuss letter closings. Most of you are familiar with phrases such as

Best regards, Sincerely yours, Yours faithfully.

In German, some common letter closings are

Hochachtungsvoll, Mit freundlichen Grüßen, Liebe Grüße.

There are two aspects I want to mention.

First, some German native speakers (and very likely people with other language backgrounds as well) use false friends as letter closings. A good example is the phrase “Best greetings“, which is a translation of the German phrase “Beste Grüße” but is not typically used by native speakers. A related example is “Greetings“, which is the literal translation of the short form “Grüße” (or singular “Gruß“) which is quite common in Germany. However, the correct English translation of Grüße is regards. In fact, the words greet and greeting cause quite some confusion among German native speakers, see also here. The key point is that the meaning of the English word greeting restricts its use to the beginning of a letter or a conversation (for the German speaking readers: to greet means begrüßen, but not grüßen).

Second, in German, informal letters, emails and text messages often make use of abbreviations such as

MFG (Mit freundlichen Grüßen)


LG (Liebe Grüße).

Interestingly, these abbreviations seem to have no common English equivalent: I have never seen a native speaker abbreviate “Best regards” as BR at the end of an email. However, abbreviations of this kind seem to be in use in the military, see this discussion.


Comments are closed.
Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial