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Thread: Dear Ms/Mrs

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    Старший оракул CoffeeCup's Avatar
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    Dear Ms/Mrs

    Hi all,

    If I need to write a business letter to a female person, which I know both first name and surname, but I don't know whether she is Ms or Mrs what is a best way to open the letter? Would it be Ok if I start with just "Dear Firstname"?
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

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    Властелин
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  3. #3
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoffeeCup View Post
    Hi all,

    If I need to write a business letter to a female person, which I know both first name and surname, but I don't know whether she is Ms or Mrs what is a best way to open the letter? Would it be Ok if I start with just "Dear Firstname"?
    One option is dear Madam (and do not use the surname), but it is rather impersonal. It gets around the problem though.

    As a woman, ocassionally you get a letter which has the wrong title on it - it's not massively offensive, just a bit irritating - it's usually just ads anyway.

    "Ms" is a modern invention, to solve problems like this, partly. Some people don't like this expression.

    But if I was in your situation, I'd use Ms here. It isn't very important, everyone knows its just a greeting. If you do not know her, and you don't have access to some database (creepy) it's totally understandable that you have to make an educated guess, or use Ms.

    I'd focus on the rest of the content instead.

    And don't forget that the correct way to end a letter that starts with "Dear Ms" is either "Yours sincerely" or "Sincerely yours". Nothing else! Many non native speakers don't know this and write something else, creative, instead, sounding rather silly. Americans sometimes write "God bless" or something similar. It's sweet and I personally don't mind it, but it's not the correct form and most Brits can't stand it. Indians write all sorts of elaborate stuff to end formal letters, making them sound.... silly.

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    If the letter is to someone in America there are lots of endings to a business letter. Google "business letter endings" for many examples.

    Scott

  5. #5
    Hanna
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    One more thing - whether it's ok to write "Dear [first name]" depends on the context of the letter, which you are not explaining.

    If it is a business contact, not a customer and you've spoken with them before, then it's definitely ok to use the first name, and you can use "Hi [name]" or "Hello [name]" as a greeting instead. If so, you end with "Regards" or "Best regards" or similar. This is normal for business emails. If it is a friend or relative, or dating situation - likewise.

    It's really only if it's a customer, or you never met the person before that it would be more appropriate to write "Dear Ms". For example you found out that you have a long lost relative in an English speaking country, or somebody wrote to you enquiring about professional services and you wanted to respond. Also in a an educational situation where this person was a lecturer, or some kind of expert that you are seeking advice from. Americans are the most relaxed about this, I think. Unlike some Southern Europeans, people will not be angry or mortally offended about titles as long as the tone of the letter is generally polite.

    The bank, estate agents, the water company, solicitors, gas supplier the local council, state authorities etc are the ones who tend to use titles.

    I look forward to learning all this in Russian! Not sure if anyone remembers my travel blog from Russian speaking countries where I got too informal, too fast with several people because I mistakenly thought it was ok.... Embarassing!! BLUSH!!!

    "Dear Mr" type letters sometimes also end with "Faithfully" / Yours faithfully.
    It sounds a bit stiffer to me though. Something a solicitor would write.

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    Старший оракул CoffeeCup's Avatar
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    Thank you all. It really helped me. I've used "Dear Ms" as it is seemed most universal for the first contact.
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

  7. #7
    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    Americans sometimes write "God bless" or something similar. It's sweet and I personally don't mind it, but it's not the correct form and most Brits can't stand it. Indians write all sorts of elaborate stuff to end formal letters, making them sound.... silly.
    I have never seen "God bless" or something similar on a business letter, or even a personal letter for that matter.

    In a personal letter, I've seen it used to say, "We will see each other this summer, God bless (or God willing)."

    Here is a great article about closings
    Very truly yours,
    Respectfully,
    Yours truly,
    Sincerely yours,
    Sincerely,
    Best regards,
    Regards,
    Cordially,
    With many thanks,
    Warm wishes,


    All of the complimentary closes above are perfectly acceptable, and choosing one is a matter of taste and fit. The first three are reserved for formal situations. The next, "Sincerely yours," is a bit formal, but it's also a standard close. Number 5, "Sincerely," is the most common close used. If you're not sure which close fits, choose "Sincerely."


    "Best regards" has become more and more common, and it may soon eclipse "Sincerely" in popularity. "Regards" is the minimalist version of it. I don't like "Regards," since I prefer that people's regard for me be their "best" or at least "warm."


    "Cordially" means "warmly" and "sincerely," but the word feels too reserved to me. I prefer "Warm wishes" or "Sincerely," which both feel warmer. But it's a question of preference--not appropriateness. I simply don't prefer "Cordially."


    "With many thanks" has its proper place. However, the words "Thank you" are not a complimentary close--they are a sentence. They belong in the body of the letter with a period at the end.


    The proper close for a letter of sympathy or condolence is one of these, or something similar:


    With deepest sympathy,
    With condolences,
    In sympathy,
    Sincerely yours,
    As you have probably noticed, only the first word of the complimentary close is capitalized, despite the title of this post.


    In business writing classes, people have asked, "Do I have to write Sincerely if I can't stand the person and I don't feel sincere?" The answer is yes. "Sincerely" is a much more gracious close than "Spitefully" or "With strong malice." (Note: I am joking. The two previous closes would never be used in a business letter.) Besides, "Sincerely" communicates positive energy and a knowledge of proper etiquette.





    As for Madam... "Madam" is used only when we do not know the recipient's name, like this:
    Dear Madam:

    If we know the recipient's name, use one of these:

    Dear Ms. Smith:
    Dear Mrs. Smith:
    Dear Miss Smith:
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