Hello everyone,

I have one question about writing a letter.

Today I have learned in School, that the salutation in English letters comes at fist, and after that the subject line.

Is that right?

(In German letters we use at first the subject line and then the salutation.)

Thanks in advance,
1 2
Hi Dany,

I usually don't use a subject line, but I were forced to use one, then I would do the following:

1122 Boogie Boogie Avenue
Mount Everest
HereAnd, There

15 November 2004

Dany Lastname
12345 Mystery Avenue
Somewhere, Greece

Subject: How to Write a Letter

Dear Mr. Lastname: (there are a lot of variations: Dear Dany Lastname: , Dear Mr. D. Lastname: etc.)

Blah blah blah blah

More blah blah blah


Courtesy copy: Santa Claus

I like to keep all the clutter out of the main portion of the letter. So I hope this helps.

I also use the same form than you, that's why I was a little bit confused.

Thanks for your fast answerEmotion: smile

Kind regards,
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I hate to be the fly in the ointment but I would write

Mr. A. Poster
The World


Dear Mr Poster

Your englishforums enquiry of 15 November

I am happy to inform you that you have received two answers to your enquiry about salutation and subject order in letters.

However, these are contradictory. We believe that this could well be another difference between British and US English.

We hope you find this satisfactory and look forward to hearing from you again,

Yours sincerely,

Hi nona the brit,

Luckily I don't use oitment.

Again, maybe there is something different in our cultures. Greece80, if you are still tuned into this channel, you should be aware that there are often differences depending upon location.

In nona's letter, I think she forgot to include the colon after "Dear Mr. Poster:" In any event, you should always include the colon. I always use a period after "Mr" as well. But I've seen others write differently.

Please see [url="http://rwc.hunter.cuny.edu/writing/on-line/b-letter.html"][/url] which is a link showing various letter forms. That's how I do write my letters as well.

Fools seldom differ, so who knows.

In searching through the Internet, most-but not all-of the sites I visited had the subject line above. But as mentioned in nona's message and in this post above, there might be regional differences. Greece80, for example, in North America, we often sign our letters, "Yours truly,". In Britian, they don't. They use "Yours faithfully," which sounds slightly odd to me in North America. I think the lesson is that nothing is absolute.

The above commentary is not meant to be disrespectful of nona.

Hope that helps.


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No offense taken and I'm not being defensive here, but it seems as though Britain is moving out of step with much of the rest of the world with regards to punctuation. It is now very much optional whether to use punctuation at all after the name and colons are uncommon. We are also taught now to never punctuate an address, as the Post Office computerised address reading system gets confused by it.

I haven't brought this up before as it seems contrary to what everyone abroad is being taught and there is no point encouraging someone into an action that might lose them marks on their course or seem out of place in their country.

You might be interested in a quick survey of my in-tray letters though.

No punctuation after name = 4 (The Institute of Public Relations (national body), Sainsbury's, (international body) a Housing Association (public sector) and a building contractor).

comma after name (which I would have said is much more common in Britain, in this context, than the colon) = 2 ( a major firm of Solicitors and a manufacturing company).

colon after name = 0.
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Hi nona the brit,

That's excellent and interesting information.

Can you find a web site that provides the "proper" method of writing a business letter in Britian? I tried, but I came up empty.

In North America, a colon is used after Dear Mr. X: in a business setting, and in a personal setting, a comma is used.

What is somewhat interesting is that Canada tends to use the British spelling (organise versus organize), yet Canada also follows the American punctuation (Dear Mr. X:) and closings (Yours truly).

You can see from [url="http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0716043martha1.html "]Martha Stewart's letter to the judge[/url] that a colon is required. As we know, Martha Stewart is a stickler for detail.

It would be good to have a UK reference site on how business letters should be written. Then when asked in the future, we can simply refer others to those two sites (UK and the one I mentioned previously).

Thanks for your help.

I have also asked this question in further forums, and all are in the same oppinion as nona the brit. But I think that nobody would say anything when I write the subject line at first.
It is different from country to country.

I've got also the answer, that in Amercian English the subject line is used at first. But the most business letters are written in British English.

Kind regards,
Hi Greece80,
But the most business letters are written in British English.

Not on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps your statement is true in Europe. But given that America dominates the world in commerce, I think most business letters are written using American English.

Anyway, you have your answers and your supporting rationale. So you should be prepared.

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