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"Official" French - how often is it really used?


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I've spent some years already wondering about the "official" French that I keep seeing in my student's books all the time. By official I mean formal business writing - things like "Je vous prie d'agréer, Madame, l'expression de mes salutations distinguées", "me tenant à votre disposition" etc.

Do they really exist?

I wonder because I've worked with French colleagues and some French customers for many years but haven't seen ever seen a single email containing at least some of those polished expressions. If anything, my experience has been completely different. I've seen people use several exclamations marks or write the whole letter in capitals or even use "tu" without even knowing me firsthand. Ok, some of them worked in the same company as me so that may be the reason but still, I've quickly learnt that if I ever start my letter with what my textbook wants to me, then people will just laugh at me :)

Can you still find those official letters/emails anywhere? Do people actually use formules de politesse?


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Yes, you can find them in the most official and formal letters. Example, if you get something from your notary, then you will see these kind of formal sentences. As well for some administrations (I could say easily all but I think some aren't even that polite and formal). So it is not much used, you're right, and you shouldn't spend much time to learn that. You can try, if you really want to, but then it won't be much useful. Anyway, you use the "langage courant" when communicating to everyday coworkers, and not the formal language, that's why you can hear as much as "tu" (but it's not the most recommended, it can hurt some people if you call them "tu" straight away).

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