How should you start a letter in Chinese? More specifically, what's the difference between starters such as 尊敬的,亲爱的,and 敬爱的, and in which cases should you use which one?

写信的时候,“尊敬的”、”亲爱的“、与“敬爱的” 有什么分别?

Edit: I do know that 尊 and 敬 both mean respect, and 亲 means love between friends or family.

  • There is no 尊爱的. It should be 尊敬的.
    – fefe
    Mar 28, 2019 at 5:21
  • Ah, you're right, my mistake!
    – mbjb
    Mar 28, 2019 at 12:08

3 Answers 3


"尊敬的": to your boss or leader (the person who has power and you are not familiar with)

"亲爱的": to your mother or lover, etc.

"敬爱的": the person who teach you, guide you, and also care about you or love you. (tutor, teacher, mentor, etc.)


I have never used any of these starters, even at the time I used paper to write the letters and mailed them. I would start with something very simple, such as 张老师、李先生、王女士. Translating “dear” into Chinese makes me uncomfortable. I could be old-fashioned!


"亲爱的" is equivalent to "Dear".

尊敬的 is a more respectful manner to start.

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