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I have to write an email to a group of 3 professors: 2 men and 1 lady. My question is how to say hello to them properly? I often use only 'Bonjour' or 'Bonjour à tous' but I find that not polite enough.

I thought about: "Bonjour madame et messieurs" or "Bonjour professeurs" (or "Bonjour les professeurs"? please correct me on this one).

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« Madame, Messieurs » and very formal if they're actual professors : « Madame le Professeur, Messieurs les professeurs, » –  Laure Apr 7 at 16:37
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Be careful not to confuse the title of Professeur to the job of professeur. When addressing someone you're not supposed to refer to their job but to their title. Professeur (capital P) is a title and you are not supposed to call any teacher Professeur if he has not got that grade. And a Professeur usually likes being called by their so hard to get title. –  Laure Apr 9 at 6:45

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

A few possibilities:

  • Not very formal but still polite

    Bonjour,
    Bonjour à tous,

  • More formal

    Bonjour Madame, bonjour Messieurs

  • Very formal (Laure's suggestion)

    Madame, Messieurs

    or

    Madame le professeur, Messieurs les professeurs

Personally, for teachers that I know, I would pick the first, “Bonjour,”. I would add “Madame” or “Monsieur” with or without the family name or the title only if there is one person (or two of the same gender). Otherwise, it is a bit long and too formal.

E.g.:

Bonjour Messieurs les professeurs,
Bonjour Mesdames,
Bonjour Monsieur Martin,
Bonjour madame la professeur,

But, if I don't know the person I'm writing to, I would use the very formal form.

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I would consider “Bonjour Madame, bonjour Messieurs” as written speech and thus no more formal than “bonjour” (although actually weirder). I would also not consider “Madame, Messieurs” to be the standard written opening and certainly not very formal. You wouldn’t dare use something else in a typed letter. –  Édouard Apr 8 at 9:34
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In my university, we write "Bonjour," in the two way (Student to professor or professor to student). That's what they told us to do in our communication course. –  Shywim Apr 8 at 12:16
    
@Shywim: As Laurent C says "bonjour" is all right if you already know those people, but OP does not say he does. I strongly advise anyone never to use plain "Bonjour" if they are writing to a Professeur (that's a university grade, all uni teachers are not Professeurs) they have never met and without having first being invited to do so. Most teachers who have reached the title of "Professeurs" like being called by their title and if one has anything to ask from them my advice is to stick to formality. –  Laure Apr 9 at 6:30
    
On mettrait une majuscule à Professeur si on s'adresse à un Professeur, et on n’appellerait pas "Professeur" un enseignant universitaire qui n'en a pas le grade. Dans les formules de politesse c'est le titre qui est requis et pas le métier. Donc pas de "Bonjour madame la professeur", pas plus que de "Bonjour Monsieur le plombier". C'est ou « (Bonjour Madame) » ou « Madame la Professeur », comme on dirait « (Bonjour) Monsieur le Président ». –  Laure Apr 9 at 6:38

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