Whether you’re looking for a job in a Spanish-speaking country or already have one, writing formal letters in Spanish is a task that every businessperson has to tackle at one point or another. I used to have a hard time with anything formal because my work has mostly been on the creative side of things. I can’t even wear a tie without feeling like I’m being strangled by a very weak yet determined man! However, I had to learn how to be formal if I wanted to advance in my career. Some people prefer formalities, others don’t really mind, but having this skill is important if you want to sound serious about what you’re doing and convince others of the quality work you’re showing. So today I’ll give you formal words and phrases so that you can write those important letters without worry!
Titles and job descriptions
People in Latin America’s business world take titles very seriously. Some might even get offended if you don’t address them properly! So before you find out if they’d rather be called by their first name it’s always a good idea to call them by their title. Here’s a list of the most common titles, greetings, and relevant job descriptions:
- Lic.: Short for Licenciado. This title is given to people who have graduated from college in most of Latin America and Spain. Licenciaturas are different than an undergraduate degree, though. They last longer (about 4-6 years) and they stand between undergraduate and graduate school in terms of information given. This one is commonly used for lawyers too.
- Dr.: You can probably figure this one out. Doctores are highly regarded in most if not all of the globe, and they tend to be proud of their title – with good reason. Becoming a doctor sure is difficult!
- Sr./Sra.: Short for Señor y Señora. These are used for formal events like weddings, graduations, religious ceremonies, etc.; however, they also work for business if you don’t know the recipient’s specific title. Their English counterparts are Mr. and Mrs.
- Srta.: Short for Señorita. Much like its English counterpart Miss, this applies to unmarried women. It’s kind of old fashioned if you ask me, but it’s still widely used in Latin America. Fun fact: we do have a neutral word to address women in Spanish – Seño! This applies to all women, but it’s very informal and not suitable for a letter.
- Ing.: Short for Ingeniero. Engineering jobs are highly esteemed in Latin America, and while you can call them Sr. or Sra., it’s respectful to call them Ing. instead.
- Prof.: Short for Profesor. This refers to college professors and it’s useful to know if you’re going to be working in a university abroad.
Additionally, when addressing someone on the envelope of the letter, remember to add the word presente after the title and name, since this is how we usually address someone in formal letters. A made-up example would be: Dr. Raúl Morataya, presente.
Greetings and Salutations
English is a language that has beauty in its simplicity. Instead of having three different formality levels, there’s only ‘you,’ and instead of having lots of ways to greet someone in a letter or email, there’s simply ‘Dear,’ which is simpler if you ask me.
- Estimado: In Spanish, there are two levels of formality when writing a letter: Querido / Estimado. These translate literally to Loved / Esteemed, but they serve the same function as the English ‘Dear.’ Querido is informal while Estimado is formal.
- A quien interese: Translates to ‘to whom it may concern’.
- Al departamento de: Translates to ‘to the department of:’ (and you put the type of department afterward – marketing, accountability, etc.).
Now that you’ve properly addressed the recipient, it’s time to say hi! These are some ways to greet someone in a formal letter:
- Reciba usted un cordial saludo: ‘I give you a warm greeting’
- Espero se encuentre gozando de buena salud: ‘I hope you’re in good health’
- Espero esta carta le encuentre bien: ‘I hope this letter finds you well’
- Mediante la presente, quisiéramos comunicarle que: ‘Through this medium we’d like to tell you’
- El motivo de la carta es: ‘The purpose of this letter is’
- Por la presente, quisiéramos hacerle llegar nuestra invitación: ‘Through this medium, we’d like to extend our invitation’
- Quisiera solicitar el puesto de: ‘I would like to apply for the job of’
- Le escribo para consultar acerca de: ‘I am writing to inquire about’
- Lamento informarle: ‘I regret to inform you that’
- Estamos felices de informarle: ‘We’re pleased to inform you that’
Farewell and sign off
Now that you’ve successfully expressed yourself, it’s time to say goodbye. These are some useful phrases to end a formal letter
- Atentamente: ‘Sincerely’
- Le agradezco de antemano: ‘Thank you in advance’
- Cordialmente: ‘Cordially’
- Se despide, Atentamente: ‘I take my leave, sincerely’
- Un cordial saludo: ‘Cordial greetings’
- Cuento con usted, atentamente: ‘I count on you, sincerely’
- Quedo a la espera de su respuesta: ‘I await your response’
- Sin otro particular, se despide atentamente: ‘Without further ado, sincere farewell’
You may have noticed the word Atentamente shows up quite a lot. While it’s letter-writing parallel is ‘Sincerely’, its literal translation means ‘attentively.’ Both words have the same use in a letter but carry different meanings, so keep that in mind!
Here’s an example letter to guide you through the motions of writing a letter:
Estimado Ing. Pérez,
Espero se encuentre gozando de buena salud. Mediante la presente, quiero comunicarle mi agradecimiento por dar de su tiempo para reunirse con la junta directiva la semana antepasada. Estamos felices de informarle que su propuesta de asesoría al personal mantenimiento de maquinaria pesada nos ha parecido de interés, por lo que cordialmente lo invitamos a la planta para negociar los honorarios que recibirá en caso desee aceptar trabajar con nosotros.
Un cordial saludo,
And here’s the example translated:
Dear Mr. Pérez,
I hope you’re in good health. Through this letter I would like to thank you for your time spent at the meeting with the board two weeks ago. We’re glad to inform you that your proposal regarding the consulting services you offered to provide to our heavy machinery maintenance personnel seems to be of interest to us. We cordially invite you to our central plant to negotiate the payment you’ll receive in case you choose to accept working with us.
And there you have it! This info will help you show Spanish speakers you mean business. If you want to blow your Spanish-speaking clients away, why not take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy to drastically improve your language skills?
We have all heard that if you don’t learn a second or third language when you’re young, then it’s too late. I’m here to tell you that’s not true!
The latest research from Brown University has debunked the theory that older people cannot learn new things as easily as younger people. These studies have found that adults can retain information too, they just do it in a different part of the brain.
Everyone has brain plasticity – this is the capacity of the brain to develop and change throughout life. Increased plasticity occurs through learning, new memories, and experiences. Younger people experience plasticity (growth) of white matter in the cortex part of the brain, and older people experience plasticity of white matter in the visual field.
Bottom line: plasticity doesn’t decline with age, it just changes.
Another study by Stanford and York University professors tried to determine the best time for people to learn a foreign language. They studied Spanish and Chinese native-speakers who were learning English as a foreign language and wanted to determine what the cutoff age is for introducing a foreign language. Researchers have debated the cutoff age for decades…is the best time to begin learning a foreign language at age five, six, 12 or 15? The study here used age 15 and 20 as the age by which a language should be introduced, and they evaluated what happened if language was introduced beyond age 20.
The results showed that achieving native-like proficiency does decline with age, but the amount of decrease and the age that the decline begins to occur is up for debate. Further, to predict how well someone will learn a foreign language depends heavily on the number of years of formal education received, socioeconomic status and resources.
Research just doesn’t have a definitive answer yet.
However, there is enough evidence that age is not an excuse to shy away from learning a new language.
Scientists are discovering new things about the brain every day, so these findings are not conclusive by any means. It is simply more information to encourage us to keep learning, regardless of the number of birthday candles on our cake.
Let’s take a look at what to do next:
Unlock Cognitive Benefits
To keep up brain flexibility (plasticity) you will want to keep your mind challenged; this will maintain current brain cells, create new pathways, and stimulate communication in the brain. An active mind helps with memory retention, multitasking, and can even help fight off early cognitive decline.
Some ideas of new things you can do are: take music lessons – vocal or instrumental, design a new garden bed – cut flowers or edibles, teach or take an art class, join a book club, volunteer for a local community project, or learn a new language.
The Key to Learning a New Language is Motivation, Not Age
Youngsters can learn another language only to fall short and never use their skills, thus forgetting what they initially grasped. Sometimes children are forced to speak another language –to communicate with family members, translate for parents, or early pressure from parents to have a competitive advantage — and these kids don’t have the interest to continue using it when they grow up.
If an adult wants to learn another language, then interest will motivate them to put forth the effort and time to speed up the process and absorb as much as they can.
If you are motivated to communicate cross-culturally and speak another language then you can do it!
Adults Learn Vocabulary Faster than Children
Some aspects of language become easier as you mature.
While children can pick up accents and mimic sounds quicker than adults, adults have a better understanding of proper language structure and richer vocabulary, and therefore can retain advanced words faster and easier than kids.
For example, a child might say in Spanish, “fui a la granja/ I went to the farm.” They are communicating that they went to the farm and getting the point across to the listener in direct and child-like simplicity. However, an adult may want to explain more, as adults tend to do, and say “Fui a la granja de lavanda en la península y vi vistas hermosas de las montañas/ I went to a lavender farm on the peninsula, and saw beautiful views of the mountains.”
New words can be traced back to your pre-existing knowledge and understanding of phrases or descriptions, and this helps you retain words quickly!
By Now You Have Learned How To Learn
You no longer rely on others to help you carve out homework time. As you get older, your motivation comes from within and you choose what skills you want to spend your time on. You also know what kind of learner you are and simply what works, and what doesn’t.
This increased self-awareness will help you cut to the chase and learn Spanish! Spanish Academy guarantees that you will be speaking Spanish in your first lesson, ¡vamanos!
Spanish Academy Helps Adult Learners
As discussed above, adults learn best in the visual field part of their brain. Spanish Academy will help you grasp Spanish by targeting this visual learning style. We have a different approach to teaching language than standard textbooks and classrooms – we offer immersion-style classes that use a lot of visuals.
Our blog on immersion discusses how teachers and programs that teach “immersion-style” use a variety of visuals: “this includes gestures, modeling, real-life objects to help illustrate a theme or situation, and lots of pictures or videos. Another is open-ended questions that encourage conversation as opposed to inquiries that only garner a basic “yes” or “no.”
Our one-on-one or two-on-one online classes will give you facetime with your teacher and they can use visual prompts and handouts to help you better grasp the new language material.
Learn a New Skill Today
Try our free class and begin expanding your horizons – and brain plasticity- today!Read More
Whenever you’re learning another language, you may often hit a common stumbling block – being able to truly express what you are feeling. I often struggle with this in both languages now. Since each language has its own unique, wonderful phrases to express an idea, my brain often goes to mush as I sort out how to express what I think and need in one language, instead of the Spanglish that I normally think in. Unfortunately, not everyone I talk to can understand my Spanglish ramblings…including my husband.
I have had the amazing opportunity to be completely immersed in the Spanish language by dating and marrying someone who speaks only Spanish. He can handle a basic conversation in English, but our home language is Spanish. If you ever have the opportunity to talk with other people who speak the same languages as you do, it’s a very interesting phenomenon as you decide which language you want to speak in with that particular person – it depends on numerous factors, and it is not always the same! Either way, whether my husband one day becomes fluent in English or not, the language for our relationship is Spanish. This means that I had to learn to express how I felt in my second language. This isn’t something normally taught in a high school Spanish class, so I learned as I went.
If you are in the same position as me, or if you are just wanting to take your Spanish to a whole other level and be able to truly express yourself in Spanish, this blog is for you! We are going to look at several common phrases that you can use with your significant other – whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not!
To be completely honest, I am not a huge fan of lovey-dovey names for your significant other in English. I don’t know what it is about them, but I just don’t feel comfortable using them with my partner. However, I am a big fan of (most) Spanish pet names. Check them out!
The first ones seem great right? My love, queen, heaven – those sound great. But my daughter? Fatty? Aren’t we talking about or beloved significant other? These may sound funny, or even offensive, in English, but trust me – they do not all have the same connotation in Spanish. Mija is actually my favorite pet name that my husband uses. It expresses so much love, warmth, and affection in just one word. Now, you’ve probably heard mamita or papito used a lot, mostly in flirtatious conversations. While these two names are very often used to pursue someone and comment on their physical appearance, they can be used in a much more caring and loving way between a couple. Or, if you want to comment on your partner’s lovely physical appearance, you can use these words. Speaking of physical appearance, let’s talk about flaco/gordo. Yes, it sounds absolutely awful in English. However, these are very endearing terms in Spanish. My husband is my no means fat, nor is he skinny. Despite that, I have called him both mi gordo and mi flaco. Why? It’s endearing! He is also (sometimes) allowed to call me his gorda/flaca because these are not degrading terms about my weight but a way to tell me he loves me and my body.
It is very important to note that these words are not just for couples. If you walk through the market in Antigua, Guatemala, you will hear the vendors calling you any of these names to make you feel like the most important person in the world… and get you to buy their product. I have to tell you – it often works on me. Hearing people call me ‘queen, beautiful, and heart’ really puts me in a good mood! It is also very common to call kids ‘gordo/gorda’ out of affection. My husband and I are blessed with a little one-year-old boy, and he is just the cutest. He was not a fat baby when he was born, and now that he is a toddler, he is still not a fat kid. However, what have I and everyone else called him since he was born? Gordito. It may have to do with the general squishiness of babies, but he will forever (yes, even as an adult) be my gordito.
Spanish is a very expressive language, especially when it comes to communicating your love to those you care about. These pet names can be used in many different circumstances and potentially be misconstrued, so I encourage you to be cautious using them with people who are not your significant other. I once called my friend papito thinking it was just a fun nickname, and his face went bright red. Turns out it is not just another nickname but has a more sensual meaning. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, and make sure the nicknames you are using are appropriate for the situation.
One of my favorite things about Spanish is the many ways to describe your feelings. In English, we say we love everything; we have one word, ‘love,’ for everything. I love pizza, movies, sleeping, my dog, my sister, my husband. The reality is that our feelings are different for each of these things, and Spanish offers us more ways to express those particular feelings. For a more in-depth look at these phrases, click here.
Alright, we have our pet names and different verbs to express our level of love for someone. However, there is so much more to look at when we think about expressing our deep feelings for our significant other.
I hope all these phrases will help you better express yourself to your significant other in Spanish! It is important to note that all of these phrases use the pronoun tú to refer to your other half. Not all couples refer to each other with tú. Some couples keep it formal with usted to express respect for each other, while others use vos to express a deep closeness. Use whichever pronoun you feel most comfortable with, but make sure to change the verb conjugations accordingly!
Spanish Poems about love
If you are looking for some beautiful sayings and quotes in Spanish to put on a card or send to your significant other, try one of these!
Prefiero un minuto contigo a una eternidad sin ti.
“I prefer one minute with you than an eternity without you.”
Te amé, te amo y te amaré. Aunque pasaran cien años y mi corazón ya esté cansado y quiera dejar de latir, quiero que sepas que mi último latido será para ti.
“I loved you, I love you, and I will love you. Even when a hundred years have passed and my heart is tired and wants to stop beating, I want you to know that my last heartbeat will be for you.”
En la tierra, en la luna, en las estrellas, en marte, en cualquier parte del universo. En la lluvia, en el frío, en el dolor y el temor, en el laberinto sombrío y los caminos más difíciles de cruzar, pero contigo, sin contratos ni condiciones.– Irene T. Gómez
“On Earth, on the moon, in the stars, on Mars, in any part of the universe. In the rain, in the cold, in pain and fear, in the gloomy labyrinth and the most difficult paths to cross, but with you, without contracts or conditions.”
Eres mi promesa de nunca romper, eres cada uno de los latidos de mi corazón. Eres mi sonrisa, después de un mal día, eres vida, eres mi vida.– Robinson Aybar
“You are my promise of never breaking; you are every one of my heartbeats. You are my smile after a bad day. You are life; you are my life.”
Te quiero no por quien eres, sino por quien soy cuando estoy contigo.– Gabriel García Márquez
“I love you not for who you are, but because of who I am when I’m with you.”
Tardé una hora en conocerte y solo un día en enamorarme. Pero me llevará toda una vida lograr olvidarte.
“It took an hour for me to meet you and just a day for me to fall in love. But it will take a whole lifetime to be able to forget you.”
Share the love!
Take everything that you’ve learned here and go express your love to your significant other! You can use whole quotes, bits and pieces, or just the pet names to express what you are feeling in Spanish. Don’t forget to practice what you’ve learned with our native Spanish-speaking teachers! You can sign up for a FREE class here! You can come up with some sentences of your own in Spanish and run it by them – they would love to help!
For more practice, check out our video on the different ways to say ‘I love you’ in Spanish. You can get a first-hand glimpse of how many Spanish speakers use different phrases to express themselves. Test your Spanish skills with the video as well by seeing how much you understand. Then, follow along with the subtitles to check your comprehension.Read More
In the last couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure to meet some wonderful and interesting people. Among them, there’s an American friend of mine who’s very special. She was born in Guatemala and adopted at a very young age by a Jewish family in the US. I met her because she came to her birth country to get to know the culture, customs, and language of the people that lived here, the place she was born. We became great friends and keep in touch to this day.
Years later, I met a French girl who was born in Guatemala and came to the country to meet her biological parents… that was a weird coincidence! Most surprisingly, today I was told about a 15-year-old boy who came to Guatemala with his parents so he could meet his biological mother. It was very strange for me to suddenly start meeting adopted Guatemalans left and right, until a teacher at my university talked to me about the time when Guatemala used to be third in the world on adoption rates, right below China and Russia. A bit of research led me to this page, which explains the issue in more detail, and I learned that there’s a network for adoptees that wish to connect to their Guatemalan roots! All of these adopted kids are now grown up, so them coming to Guatemala shouldn’t come as a surprise.
My American friend fell in love with her birthplace, and now she’s planning to move here to spend her days making Guatemala a better place. I have had the pleasure of accompanying her on her journey, and through it, we came to face an interesting challenge: she has to set up a Guatemalan bank account. In order to do this, I helped her by calling several banks and asking what she should do in order to open an account here, if possible. Some banks were laxer, and others were quite strict, so I’ll write down what I learned so you can better know what to expect if you’re ever in need of opening an account while abroad.
What do I need to have?
According to the banks I spoke to, the following are required if you’re to open a bank account in Guatemala:
- Proof of residence (usually in the form of electricity or water bill)
- Minimum amount of cash required to open the account (it varied from $15 – $150, roughly)
These things were required only by some of the banks I contacted:
- Proof of employment
Some banks required proof of employment that would guarantee that the resident had a job in Guatemala. I asked them about cases where the resident works remotely for a website or company, to which they replied it was no problem as long as the company they worked for could provide said proof of employment to confirm the person opening the account has a steady source of income.
- Guatemalan ID
Specifically, having a native Guatemalan with an ID register as a creditor, so they could manage or delete the account if the resident left the country, for example. I personally don’t recommend opening an account if they ask for this, even if there’s a Guatemalan willing to be your creditor. These things, I believe, are best kept personal. I guess a spouse could be an exception, but if you’re married to a Guatemalan you can get an ID yourself, so it kind of defeats the purpose of a creditor!
Each bank I asked this question had a different answer, so my advice is to give them a call! Some of the banks had an English option for customer service, and they’re usually happy to give any info necessary.
Banking Terms in Spanish
“But I’m not going to live in Guatemala!”
Just like each bank has different requirements to open an account, so will each country. Something very important to take into account is the location you’re planning to live in when opening your account. Make sure your bank has a location set up near your home! In countries with large rural areas, banks can be few and far between, so don’t forget to double-check for banks that are close to you so you can visit anytime you need.
Either way, the first thing you should do before setting up an account abroad is to contact the bank so they give you the info you need! If you want to improve your Spanish so the conversation with the bank’s customer service is easier, make sure to try out a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More