Basic Phrases for Communicating with Italian Customers

January 27, 2016

When you work in sales or operations and your company is looking to attract more international customers, a great way to help make that happen is with small gestures. For example, simply using salutations in prospective clients’ native languages when you email them could be the deciding factor in whether you seal the deal. The gesture indicates that you truly do care and are willing to put in work. Think along these lines for salutations on notifications and apps, and you’re in an even better position. Italy has a lot of potential, because as you no doubt know, life there is highly relationship based. Adding a personal touch can be extremely effective, so here’s the scoop on basic salutation terms in Italian.

1. When You Are Unsure of Your Recipient’s Name and Gender

Your email salutation depends on the gender and marital status of the person you’re corresponding with, but don’t worry if you don’t know that information. Opt for “Gentili Signore e Signori,” which means “Dear Sir or Madam.”

2. Professional Greetings

When you write to a man, use “Egregio” for “Dear” followed by “Sig.” for “Mr.” So for example, if you were writing to a certain Vito Agostini, you would write Egregio Sig. Agostini. For a woman who is married or whose status you do not know, write Gentilissima Sig.ra Agostini. Write Gentilissima Agostini for an unmarried woman.

3. Titles

In Italy, it’s customary to use titles when applicable. Common titles you might use include “Dottore” for a male doctor and “Dottoressa” for a female doctor (you can abbreviate these as Dott.ssa). It’s fine to use the doctor titles even when the recipient does not have a medical degree, but he or she should have a university degree. (And yes, this usage is often confusing for people in the United States.) For a professor, use Professore/Professoressa, or Prof./Prof.ssa.

4. Salutations to Avoid

Avoid using “Caro/Cara,” which means “Dear.” In Italy, it is reserved only to greet relatives and friends. You may also want to avoid “Preg.” (for “Pregiatissimo”), which also means “Dear”. It’s an extremely formal way to greet someone.


Choose the greeting that works best for your situation to help build trust with your customers. And when you decide to take your international customer service to a new level, check out Unbabel translation services.



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