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comma or semi-colon with salutation (letter): Dear, / Dear;

Discussion in 'English Only' started by mafalda172, Mar 17, 2009.

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  1. mafalda172 New Member

    French
    Good afternoon - can someone tell me if in English, when beginning a letter, we use a semi-colon or a comma... ex: Dear, or Dear;

    Thanks for your reply.
     
  2. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    We use a comma.

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    ................
     
  3. aztlaniano

    aztlaniano Senior Member

    Lavapiestán, Madrid
    English (Aztlán, US sector)
    If it's a formal letter it could be a colon:
    Dear sirs:
    Informal with a comma, as Sally says. A semi-colon; never.
     
  4. riscman Senior Member

    Warwick England
    English-English
    Agreed a comma is the most usual form, but it is acceptable to omit the comma in informal letters.
     
  5. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    We never use a colon or a semi-colon in English, always a comma. It looks very strange to see a colon in an english letter, it is Spanish punctuation, not English.
     
  6. aztlaniano

    aztlaniano Senior Member

    Lavapiestán, Madrid
    English (Aztlán, US sector)
    Name of Receiver
    Address

    Dear Mr. X:

    This is a typical business letter. Although there are many different styles, ...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_letter


    If you know the person and typically address them by their first name, it is acceptable to use only the first name in the salutation (for example: Dear Lucy:). In all other cases, however, use the personal title and full name followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation.
    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/653/01/


    See also:
    http://esl.about.com/cs/onthejobenglish/a/a_basbletter.htm
     
  7. Lagartija

    Lagartija Senior Member

    Western Massachusetts
    English, USA
    Not really, SallyB. As Aztlaniano says, it is standard American English to use a colon in a business or formal letter.
     
  8. zumac Senior Member

    Mexico City
    USA: English & Spanish
    Well, that depends just how informal your letter is. You might just omit all punctuation, capitalization, grammar, etc.

    Saludos.
     
  9. riscman Senior Member

    Warwick England
    English-English
    There is a "how to write letters" reference section in the middle of my Oxford Spanish Dictionary (2003 edition)
    It covers most types of correspondence, for examole personal letters, booking hotels, business letters, job applications and replying to invitations.

    About one in three of the letters has no punctuation following the opening salutation. This applies as much to the Spanish letters as to the English ones.
     
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It depends on where you are and the level of formality.

    There are different styles in different countries and in different contexts.

    For a great deal more information, see the threads listed at letter opening

    I have closed this thread to avoid the need to repeat what has been said there - though most of it has probably been said above :)
     
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