How to Write an Email or Letter in Russian: the complete guide

Business correspondence in Russia is mostly done via email, so It’s important to know how to correctly compose one in Russian. This will be your main communication tool for contacting your work colleagues, clients, and any other persons related to your career or business.

This article will teach you how to properly compose an email in Russian, from the opening to the conclusion, depending on the addressee and context. Read along to prevent possible embarrassment!

How to begin a Russian email or letter

In business correspondence, it is customary to address Russians by their first name and patronymic (name derived from the father).

For example: Владимир Владимирович (Vladimir Vladimirovich)

Владимир (Vladimir) being the first name and Владимирович (Vladimirovich) being the patronymic. The suffix of patronymics depends on the name and gender, so double-check for correctness.

To make an email more polite, the word “Уважаемый” (“Uvazhaemy”) or “Уважаемая” (“Uvazhaemaya”) when the recipient is a woman, can be added. It literally means “Respected”, but think of it as the Russian version of “Dear”.

Therefore, a greeting such as “Уважаемый Владимир Владимирович” (“Uvazhaemy Vladimir Vladimirovich”) would be considered proper form.

You can avoid writing a patronymic when you’re addressing a close colleague or friend. If you’re addressing a superior or a colleague whom you don’t know very well, it’s advised to not forget the patronymic.

Other valid ways of starting an email:

Using the appropriate Russian “you” pronoun

There are two versions of “you” in Russian:

For a business email, you’re going to be using “Вы” (“Vy”) nearly all of the time. The only time “Ты” (“Ty”) would be used is if you’re addressing a friend or someone you speak to on an informal basis.

Which “you” to use on your work colleagues also depends on your company’s work culture. Although less so than in the past, there are strong hierarchical traditions that prevail in Russian business etiquette.

In some Russian companies, the use of “Ты” (“Ty”) between employees and superiors can be regarded as a recognition of merit or formal inclusion as "one of the team”.

There’s also a difference between:

Lower case “you” is already polite enough, but you can use the capital variation if you want to be extra polite.

We recommend the following: use “Вы” ("You”) to begin with. If the reply contains вы” ("you") instead of “Вы” ("You”) switch to lower case in further correspondence with the recipient.

How to end a Russian email or letter

In business, you should try to come off as an educated professional. The case is the same for business emails.

The most common phrase for ending an email in Russian is “С уважением” (“Best regards”). Another one is “С наилучшими пожеланиями” (“Best wishes”).

Less formal options:

Standard Russian phrases for emails and letters

The following are standard phrases we compiled to help you compose an email in Russian.

Reasons for writing:

Reference phrases:

Binding phrases:

Requesting phrases:

Attached documents:

Closing phrases:

Example of an email in Russian:

Уважаемый Владимир Владимирович, Извините за задержку ответа. Мы обращаемся к Вам с инвестиционным предложением. К письму прилагается файл с предложением. Если у вас возникнут дальнейшие вопросы, вы можете обратиться ко мне за информацией. Мы будем признательны за быстрый ответ. Заранее спасибо. С уважением, Сергей Андропов Translation: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, Sorry for the delayed response. We are writing to you with an investment opportunity. Attached to the letter is a file with the opportunity. If you have any additional questions, please contact me. An early reply will be appreciated. Thank you in advance. Best regards, Sergey Andropov Conclusion

This is the end of this Russian email and letter writing guide. For more on the Russian language, see this article on Russian compliments.