Do you still write letters? Or are you like me? I rarely write letters anymore — even business letters. I mostly communicate via email or text messages.
When you do write a letter or send an email, do you start it off with the word “Dear” in front of the addressee’s name at the beginning? How about “Sincerely yours” (or just “Sincerely”) at the end?
I’m not talking about letters to your close — or even extended — family members, where you might start it out with “Dear Aunt Barbara,” and end it with “Love, your nephew Jim.” After all, you do want dear Aunt Barbara to remember that you’re her loving nephew when she’s preparing her last will and testament, right?
No, I’m talking about letters (and even emails) to businesses, co-workers, friends, or acquaintances.
Terms of endearment
I was taught that opening a letter with the word “Dear” in front of the addressee’s name — even if you’re sending it to a total stranger — is the proper letter writing convention. It’s not necessarily intended to be a term of endearment.
So even if you’re writing a letter to a customer, a business associate, or virtually anyone else, you should, according to letter-writing etiquette, always start your letter with “Dear” followed by the person’s first name.
If you don’t know the recipient’s first name, you should use his or her last name, such as “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Dear Ms. Jones.” And if you know neither the first nor the last name of the addressee, you should use “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.”
“Dear Madam”? Seriously, who does that anymore?
And you should, they say, end the letter with “Sincerely yours.” Even a business letter. Because you want your sincerity in your business correspondence to shine through, right?
Dear Electric Company,
Thank you for sending me the latest monthly bill. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.
I never use “Dear” for a salutation or “Sincerely yours” at the close of a letter or an email. I may sometimes end an email with “Regards,” but that is about as sincere as I get.
So, what about you? Do you still use “Dear” and “Sincerely yours” in your letters and/or emails? Or do you consider them to be old-fashioned letter-writing conventions whose time has passed?
Have we, as a modern society, lost something by no longer using them?