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I have been sending emails to my teacher using:

Querido, ...

I recently found out that estimado and distinguido also mean "dear". Which form of "dear" should I use in an email (to my teacher)?

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Estimado = Esteemed.
Distinguido = Distinguished.

Neither term means "dear." Also, at least in Spain, "querido" is only used for family members and people you love.

For a teacher I would choose "estimado", and for someone who is a very very important person "distinguido".

I would comment to that teacher and have them clarify what they prefer.

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    estimado equals esteemed, not estimated in this context. However esteemed is archaic unlike estimado.
    – mdewey
    Apr 1 at 10:51
  • Thanks @mdewey for the clarification. Apr 1 at 13:00
  • In Chile you may use querido or estimado, depending on your level of acquaintance. Distinguido would come out as too formal. Apr 4 at 1:37
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Son tres sentimientos distintos relacionados con distintas personas.

Querido(s) son las personas por las que uno siente aprecio/ternura/cariño/amor... como una madre, un novio o un viejo conocido.

Estimado(s) son las personas por las que se siente aprecio. Son gentes valoradas positivamente. : Estimados amigos, compañeros, alumnos, etc... es una fórmula de cortesía

Distinguido(s) es aún mas formal y viene a representar a los "escogidos" de entre los demás, los que sobresalen, los más respetables.

Querido y estimado son más proximos. Distinguido es más formal y respetuoso

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