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In English, "To whom it may concern" is a generic starter to a letter implying that the letter is addressed to anyone for whom the letter is relevant.

For a bit of context, I had to ask someone in France for a document confirming my workplace, and was thinking how I would word such a document in English. In English I would have started with "To whom it may concern" whereas the document I was given used a different approach "ATTESTATION", but it did get me thinking!

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3 Answers 3

In French, to address a letter to whom it may concern I would use:

Madame, Monsieur

Inside the text of the letter, you could use the à qui de droit translation:

  • You should forward this letter to whom it may concern

  • Vous pouvez transférer cette lettre à qui de droit

source: Banque de dépannage linguistique de l'Office québecois de la langue française

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In French, it's not correct to adress a letter à qui de droit ("to whom it may concern").

It is preferable tu use Madame, Monsieur, ("Dear Sir or Madam") if there is one person or Mesdames, Messieurs, ("Ladies and Gentlemen," but this translation is rather awkward) if there are several people, followed by a new paragraph.

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Well, you still have to address it as in put a name on the envelope (or the top right of the letter as I usually do). So instead of « À Madame Dupont, 12 rue du général Quinexistepas, 12345 Trifoullis-les-oies », I usually put « À qui de droit » whenever I don’t know who will read it. Then, I open my letter with « Madame, Monsieur ». –  Édouard Jul 19 '13 at 12:25

On top of other answers,

  • Another translation of to whom it may concern is aux intéressés:

    Merci de communiquer ces informations aux intéressés. (Please communicate this information to whom it may concern)

    Should you read this a day, the meaning is basically the same as à qui de droit. The slight differences between the two are mostly a question of usage.

    For example, a legal request (permit, authorization...) needs approval from qui de droit while information can be communicated aux intéressés or à qui de droit.

  • Aux personnes concernées is sometimes used as well but is less common. The meaning is the same as aux intéressés, in a lower register:

    Merci de communiquer ces informations aux personnes concernées. (Please communicate this information to whom it may concern)

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