First of all you need to open the letter or email. It’s important to do this in the right way, because it’s the first thing the recipient, or the person who receives your piece of writing, sees.
Open Your Email with a Nice Greeting
You open the email with a greeting, such as Hi John, or Dear Ms. Masaki. It’s not very nice if you skip the greeting, and start writing your message right away.
Make sure you spell the names right!
Which Greeting is Right?
Which greeting should you choose? Well, it depends on whom you’re writing to.
Here is a guideline:
Don’t know the person’s name → Dear Madam (woman) – Dear Sir (man)
Know the person’s name → Dear Ms. [last name] (woman) – Dear Mr. [last name] (man)
1 If you don’t know the name of a person, and you don’t know either if it’s a man or a woman, write Dear Sir or Madam,
2 If you do have a name, but you have no idea whether it’s a man or a woman, write Dear [first name] [last name],. I’ve received quite a number of letters addressing me as Dear Jacqueline Schaalje. It’s perfectly okay. Apparently the sender was unable to decide whether Jacqueline was a woman’s name.
For more tips about using titles, click here. (Article about this subject.)
Addressing friends, colleagues, supervisors
If you’re writing to someone that you call by their first name, you can use the following greetings:
Or simply Hey or Hi.
Only Using the Name
You’ll also find emails or letters where the greeting is only the name. You can use this option for short notes. For instance:
I hope that was clear! Here’s a little exercise.
Read the following emails/letters, and choose a greeting for it. You can choose from the following:
Lucy, Dear Sir or Madam, Dear Mr. Burke, Hi Alex,
1 I am interested in obtaining information about your Advanced English Seminar at the Bristol Conference Centre which is scheduled for next spring. I would like to know the schedule and where I can find accommodation.
Thanks in advance.
2 What’s up? I’ve been looking for you in the cafeteria, but didn’t find you. Kelly told me you’re on holiday. Hope you’re having fun. Drop me a line.
3 It was a pleasure meeting you for lunch yesterday. As promised, I’m sending you our new product specs so you can try them out. Should there be any problem, please do not hesitate to contact me.
4 I’d like to remind you that I’m going to leave the office a bit earlier today, because I have a meeting at my daughter’s school.
Answers: scroll down.
1 Dear Sir or Madam
2 Hi Alex
3 Dear Mr. Burke