Yours faithfully vs. Yours sincerely

This is a discussion thread · 10 replies
1 2
Pete:
Hi everybody!
Somebody told me the other day that "Yours sincerely," should only be used in letters to a person whom you address with his or her name (e.g. "Dear Mr Bateman,") whereas "Yours faithfully," should be used when you don't know the addressee's name and start your letter along with something in the way of "Dear Sir,", "Dear Madam," or "Dear Madams and Sirs,".

As a non-native speaker of English I had never heard of that rule. Can you confirm it?
And by the way: Are there other formal (!) ways to end a letter?

Thanks for your help!
Pete
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Steve Howarth:
[nq:1]Hi everybody! Somebody told me the other day that "Yours sincerely," should only be used in letters to a person ... Madams and Sirs,". As a non-native speaker of English I had never heard of that rule. Can you confirm it?[/nq]
Yes - that's what I've always understood, and written (as an English, native-English speaker).
[nq:1]And by the way: Are there other formal (!) ways to end a letter?[/nq]
"Yours sincerely" and "Yours faithfully" are the only formal endings I ever use.
[nq:1]Thanks for your help! Pete[/nq]
Steve Howarth
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
ray o'hara:
[nq:1]Hi everybody! Somebody told me the other day that "Yours sincerely," should only beused in letters to a person whom ... it? And by the way: Are there other formal (!) ways to end a letter? Thanks for your help! Pete[/nq]
There is no rule, you may use whatever you want. The only language rules are those of syntax and grammar.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Don Phillipson:
[nq:1]And by the way: Are there other formal (!) ways to end a letter?[/nq]
See business style books of the 1950s with
specimen letters, some of which end:
I have the honour to be,
Sir,
your humble servant . . .
which may be one reason business style
books were generally abandoned in the 1980s.

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Alan Jones:
Agreed generally as regards British English, though "Yours truly" is possible for a letter starting "Dear Mr X": it's more formal than "Yours sincerely".
"Dear Madams and Sirs" is plain wrong. The convention is to use "Dear Sirs". One way round the problem is to write "Dear Members" etc or to address your letter to "The Chair(man)" or "The Secretary" or whatever.You then need to check, perhaps by telephone, the name and sex of that individual and the appropriate manner of address. Any letter addressed to "Dear Sir or Madam" goes immediately, unread, into my wastepaper basket: I believe that a letter sent to me should be addressed to me individually. Advertisements should not be in letter format.
Alan Jones
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Daniel James:
[nq:2]And by the way: Are there other formal (!) ways to end a letter?[/nq]
[nq:1]See business style books of the 1950s with specimen letters, some of which end: I have the honour to be, Sir, your humble servant . . . which may be one reason business style books were generally abandoned in the 1980s.[/nq]
Indeed.
I have a letter here, received in the last year, the text of which (details elided) is:
[nq:1]Dear Sir, We beg to inform you that your esteemed order for ... is now ready, and await the favour of a call at your earliest convenience. We are, Dear Sir Your obedient servants, ...[/nq]
There are as many ways to write as letter as to skin a cat.

Cheers,
Daniel.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Cece:
Business etiquette is another area with pondian differences. An American business letter's complimentary close is most often "Sincerely." Now, I have been told that the rest of the world distrusts that word, and that letters sent to businesses in other countries should use "Cordially." But that's been argued about too.

Cece
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
ray o'hara:
[nq:1]Business etiquette is another area with pondian differences. An American business letter's complimentary close is most often "Sincerely." Now, I ... word, and that letters sent to businesses in other countries should use "Cordially." But that's been argued about too. Cece[/nq]
The only time people mean is when they get to use words like "!" or "Crazy ***!", courtesy is faking it.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Joanne Marinelli:
[nq:1]The only time people mean is when they get to use words like "!" or "Crazy ***!", courtesy is faking it.[/nq]
Could we aim for some literacy here? "People only mean what they write when they use invectives..." Which isn't quite the case. Formality, orally or in written form, has a strategic aim.
Joanne
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here