E-mail opening: Dear Sir/ Dear Sir or Madam etc.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Aleessa, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. Aleessa Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Hi everyone,

    could you please explain me how is it better to start an e-mail to the person whose gender you are not sure about. For Instance, it's not clear from the e-mail address who it is: a man or a woman. I found such expressions as Dear Sir/Dear Sirs/ Dear Sir or Madam. But it's said there, that such expressions are good if writing to the whole company or department. What if you need to address a single person?
    Thanks a lot.
     
  2. You can't go wrong with Dear Sir or Madam.

    Rover
     
  3. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Dear Sir or Madam will work fine when addressing one person.
     
  4. *cat*

    *cat* Senior Member

    Slovenia
    Slovene
    I would and also did use "Dear Sir or Madam" when I didn't know the gender of the person. It's singular.

    Dear Sirs would be for a whole company.
     
  5. Aleessa Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Thank you very much. I will use "Dear Sir or Madam" then.
    Aleessa
     
  6. researcher616 Member

    American English
    If, for example, the person's name is AB Smith, then another option is: Dear AB Smith, which may make it more personal than just Dear Sir or Madam. Each situation is different and may require different usages.
     
  7. deadbox Member

    China
    Chinese
    Dear sir/madam is ok.
     
  8. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Well, it's ok if you say Dear Sir or Madam... you don't want to lowercase or slash anyone. :)
     
  9. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    Well, in another thread on this very forum, repeating "Dear" (to make it "Dear Sir or Dear Madam") was recommended. That does away with the ambiguity.
     
  10. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    That repetition seems unnecessary to me. What ambiguity are you referring to?
     
  11. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    The ambiguity of addressing the woman as just "Madam", not "Dear Madam". I think that recommendation was made again to be PC.
     
  12. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I really don't see any ambiguity, Emp. Was the person who made the recommendation joking?
     
  13. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British (English) English
    It's so standard, that that possibility never entered my mind. Anyway, I think it's a very long time since I had a letter or an e-mail with this salutation. My name is used even by people I've never heard of who don't know me from Adam. That should be Eve I suppose. ;)
     
  14. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    I don't think so, Loob, but I'm not actually sure of the recommendation now. :( Maybe my memory playing a prank on me then.:eek:
     
  15. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

    To me, "Dear Sir or Madam" is beginning to sound ridiculously old-fashioned. Nothing wrong with using an actual name.
     
  16. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I wouldn't use 'Dear Sir or Madam' if I have a name. If there is no name, I might be forced to use this manner of salutation! (Traditional British style dictates that you end with 'Yours faithfully' instead of 'Yours sincerely' if there is a name.)

    If there is a name and I don't know if I'm addressing a man or a woman, I would prefer 'Dear Mr/Ms Smith' to 'Dear AB Smith'
     

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