How to write an email or letter in Basque

Learning to write a letter (or email) in a new language is a great way to become acquainted with the nuances of that language. It also showcases how relationships work in different cultures.

As a native Basque speaker, I put together this guide to help you write letters and emails in Basque, in a wide range of situations:

How to start an email or a letter in Basque

(Note: at the bottom of this article, there is a full example of a letter written in Basque.)

A letter usually begins with the sender’s address written on the top left and the recipient’s address on the top right.

The date comes below the recipient’s address. In Basque, dates are written in the following manner:

« Bilbao, 2001eko maiatzaren 12a »

First comes the place, then the year, month, and day. The letters in bold are suffixes used when writing a date in Basque.

Basque email / letter openings for formal correspondence

Letters and emails start with a greeting. It is important to note that in Basque, letter or email greetings are followed by a colon instead of a comma, and the first sentence that follows starts with a capital letter.

Here is a list of formal Basque greetings used in letters and emails:

These greetings can also be more neutral:

Basque email/letter openings for informal correspondence

Here is a list of openings which can be used when writing an informal letter or email in Basque:

All of these greetings are synonyms, and their English translation would be “friend”.

The letter 'k' appearing at the end of some of these greetings is used to indicate plurals, i.e. when the message is addressed to more than one recipient.

The message could also be even more informal and start with a simple «Kaixo!» (meaning: “Hello!”).

How to end an email or letter in Basque

A letter or email usually ends in two parts. First, we state our hopes and intentions and then we say goodbye.

Several common Basque phrases can be used:

The following Basque phrases can be used to say “goodbye” in a letter or email:

You can also end an email or letter with an additional message, which goes after «Oh.:». Although it looks like an exclamation, it is the abbreviation for «oharra», the equivalent of “postscript” in Basque.

How to end an informal email or letter in Basque

Here are some casual ways to say “goodbye” in an informal Basque message:

Useful Basque phrases for letters or emails

Here is a list of Basque phrases which are useful when writing letters or emails:

Specific types of Basque letters

After all of the basics have been laid out, it is time to move on from generic phrases to more specific contexts.

How to write a postcard in Basque

When it comes to the holidays, a lot of Basque people own a house in the nearby provinces of La Rioja or Aragón. It provides a change to a drier and warmer climate, and some of them offer a lot of outdoorsy activities since they are typically close to some mountains.

Families may also choose to go to the Mediterranean side of Spain, or to campsites, whereas other people prefer to explore unknown countries.

A Basque postcard would begin with a simple greeting, such as saying hello and addressing the person by their first name. If the recipient’s first name were Ane, we would write: «Kaixo Ane».

After the greeting, our postcard can describe where we are writing from. Here are some example phrases in Basque for that:

After that, we can write about our overall impressions of the holiday:

Next, we elaborate on the things we have done while on holiday:

Then our postcard can include an anecdote that was the highlight of the trip:

Last but not least, we end our Basque postcard with a friendly greeting.

It is also customary for everyone on the holiday to sign it, as it makes the kids feel involved in the process and they get really excited.

How to write a thank you card in Basque

Thank you cards follow a similar structure to a letter, in the sense that we also need to write a date, a greeting, and a farewell. The content, however, is different.

Here are some examples of phrases that can be useful when writing a thank you card in Basque:

Once the gratitude has been expressed, it is time to explain the reason for it:

How to write a birthday card in Basque

«Zorionak zuri, zorionak beti…»

Writing down the beginning of the birthday song is one of the options to start a birthday card in Basque.

Basque people tend to be very warm when expressing their love to others, so it is important to maintain this tone, unless we want to sound cold and distant.

Here are some examples of phrases that can be used when writing a birthday card in Basque:

What to write on a Basque wedding card

There are many ways to phrase a wedding invitation. They usually involve the name of the couple, the date, and the place of the event. However, much of the rest is freestyle.

Here are some ideas of the types of phrases that can be useful when writing a wedding card in Basque:

Basque email/letter example

Here is an example email / letter written in Basque, followed by its translation:

Donostian, 2022ko urtarrilaren 21a

Andre hori,

Mikel izena dut eta Aran Kirol Taldearen izenean idazten dizut. Jaso dugu abenduaren 29an bidalitako materiala, baina guztia aztertu ondoren, badugu zurekin argitu beharreko kontu bat.

Izan ere, gaur jasotako materialaren artean eskatu ez genituen kamisetak topatu ditugu, eta gainera ordaindu ere egin ditugu.

Gutun honen bitartez, jakinarazi nahi dizuegu materiala berriro bueltatuko dizuegula paketearen helbidera. Horrez gain, kamisetengatik kobratu diguzuen diru-kopurua itzultea ere eskatzen dizuegu, kontu berdinera.

Aldez aurretik eskerrak emanez,

Mikel Agirre IDAZKARIA


Donostia, 21 January 2022

Dear Madam,

My name is Mikel and I am writing in the name of the Aran Sports Team. We received the material sent on December 29th. However, after having a closer look, we need to make some things clear.

The truth is that we found some t-shirts that we did not ask for, and we have also paid for them.

Through this letter, we want to let you know that we will return the material to the address that comes on the package. Moreover, we ask for a refund of the money that you charged us for the extra t-shirts, all to the same bank account.

Thank you in advance,

Mikel Agirre, SECRETARY


Written language is in a way more complex than oral language since the lack of tone or facial expressions can lead to more misunderstandings. That is why it is important to be prepared for any kind of situation.

Whether it is a birthday, a wedding, a holiday, or an everyday issue, you now have the tools to navigate Basque society.

For more on vocabulary and pronunciation, see this article: “Basque language: Cool, Beautiful, and Useful Words & Phrases”.