I'd like to translate the English phrase A letter for the public to read into German. To be clear, I mean the phrase to suggest a letter that the public can read, as if addressed to the public.

Google Translate suggests Ein Brief für die Öffentlichkeit zu lesen.

Reverso suggests Ein Brief für die Öffentlichkeit, um zu lesen.

Linguatec and Systranet suggest Ein Brief, damit die Öffentlichkeit liest. This is correctly retranslated to English by Google Translate.

Are any of these good translations? I wonder about the grammar.

If lesen is translated as to read, I don't know why Ein Brief für die Öffentlichkeit lesen would be incorrect.

I suppose I'm asking about German infinitive verb grammar. For example, in English a valid phrase is cake for everyone to eat. Would it be correct German grammar to say Kuchen für jeder essen? Or Kuchen, den jeder essen?

  • In what way is that different from an open letter?
    – chirlu
    Mar 8, 2016 at 16:13
  • I suppose it isn't different from an open letter, but the English phrase also suggests that the public should actually read the letter, not just have access to it.
    – jaycer
    Mar 8, 2016 at 16:21
  • @chirlu: Open letters are not typically addressed at the public, as requested by the OP. Mar 8, 2016 at 16:29
  • @O.R. : The original term does not say to whom the letter is literally addressed - It says who should read it, which is not necessarily the same person (and also a typical trait of an open letter). And jaycer: Why exactly should the writer give the public access to the letter if he doesn't want them to read it?
    – tofro
    Mar 8, 2016 at 18:09

3 Answers 3


The German standing expression would be "ein offener Brief". Although it is typically addressed to some specific addressee, the intention really is to be read by the public - for what other reason should it be "open"?.

And the Internet translates are, unfortunately, all wrong as already pointed out. If you want a literal translation, that would go like ein Brief an die Öffentlichkeit, or, even more literal, ein Brief, den die Öffentlichkeit/jeder lesen sollte. (I'd rather say "jeder" here)

  • I agree, the "to read"-bit is commonly not used at all in German, as it is redundant. What else would one do with a letter? I would say it is redundant in the English example as well, but of course could still be what is typically used.
    – Gerhard
    Mar 9, 2016 at 10:19

unfortunately the google translation is wrong. you could say "Ein an die Öffentlichkeit gerichteter Brief" for example.


If you are using it as a title, I would even suggest "(Ein) Brief an die Öffentlichkeit"

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