OK so it doesn't win any prizes at formal business letter school, but it is clear, and with some luck will raise a smile at the other end.[...] something like, "Dear Marketing Department" or "Dear ABC Company." It is less traditional and less formal, but it is sure not to offend anyone.
Sage advice, panj. I agree that you should do all you can to find the name of a specific person in the organization who is responsible for the matter you're writing about. Even if it isn't exactly the right individual, he/she is more likely to pass the letter on to someone more appropriate if you've done some research before writing. (At least I am! )panjandrum said:If this is covering your application, it would be best if you could find a name to use - or at least to find out for sure whether Dear Sir, or Dear Madam would be appropriate.
Sorry to differ, but this is not absolutely acceptable. Dear Sir or Madam indicates that you care so little about the recipient that you know nothing about him/her - not even the gender. The only kind of letter most people get that starts Dear Sir or Madam is junk mail - and it gets treated accordingly (ie filed in the round file).The only acceptable form is the time-honoured "Dear Sir or Madam,".
Sorry forgot to add this one.Sorry to differ, but this is not absolutely acceptable. Dear Sir or Madam indicates that you care so little about the recipient that you know nothing about him/her - not even the gender. The only kind of letter most people get that starts Dear Sir or Madam is junk mail - and it gets treated accordingly (ie filed in the round file).
This is why other foreros are going for such things as Dear Marketing Department or Dear ABC Company. Dear Sir or Madam may be strictly 'correct', but it is completely impersonal, and the essence of a letter is to be personal.
It all depends on context, of course, but I certainly haven't addressed a letter Dear Sir or Madam anytime in the last twenty years - or even perhaps ever. Ideally you'd find out in advance the name of the recipient. If not, Panj's Dear ABC Company is good for me.
I agree with Trisia. I hate being addressed as Dear Sir or Madam. I hate it even worse when someone addresses me as Dear Madam. Makes me think of Hermione Gingold - you'll have to google that one!I think that Dear Sir or Madam sounds ok, in some circumstances.
But, were I to write a letter to a company/department, I would probably use "To whom it may concern" and forget the "Dear ___" bit. I wonder if that's considered rude .
If I didn't know whether Veena Sandinpan was masculine or feminine, I'd write "Dear Veena Sandipan".Some job ad's may end this way:
"... If you wish to join us and be part of our success, please send your resume to email@example.com" instead of "... to John.Doe@company.com"
In this case, candidate should be forgiven not to know to whom (s)he writes. If it is important, why isn't the name of the contact person mentioned?
But there is another situation which is very embarrassing: you know the name but can't deduce the gender! e.g. "... please send your resume to Veena.Sandinpan@company.com" if you are not familiar with indian names.
If you write either "Dear Mr Sandinpan," or "Dear Mrs Sandinpan,", you may feel that you have one chance out of two to offend the person!
Then, is "Dear Sandinpan," ok or too casual?
Dear Sandipan is not OK, in my opinion. Dear Veena Sandipan, yes. The surname only with Dear seems extremely patronising, superior and uhmm...feudal sounding My dear Smith, you really must make sure that the whole of the West lawn is mowed before the weekend.Then, is "Dear Sandinpan," ok or too casual?
I agree with the above.If I want to write a letter of complaint to the electricity company, for example, there's no way I'm going to spend a lot of time and trouble to try and discover the name of the person in charge of the sector. Dear Sir/Madam, Attention; complaints department, should be more than adequate and absolutely polite.
Dear ABC Company or Dear Marketing Department sounds just plain weird to my ears.
Speaking as someone with an ambiguously gendered personal name, I much prefer "Dear Given Surname" to a guess as to Mr./Ms. If I know the correspondant's only gender cue is my given name, even a correct guess annoys me. Mrs./Miss, if they decide I'm female, annoys me even more -- they're making my marital status their business as well.If I didn't know whether Veena Sandinpan was masculine or feminine, I'd write "Dear Veena Sandipan".
Thank you for your reply Loob. My reply was to indicate that the question isn't 'should we use dear sir or madam' but should we use 'dear madam or sir'Hello Davidglasgow - welcome to the forums
I really wouldn't use "Dear Sir or Madam", myself.
If I received a letter which began that way, I would feel puzzled and cautious: why on earth would someone be writing to me like that? Is it a scam? Etc, etc....
It is the "form", so we follow the form. I guess because they represent a proper noun.Why do we capitalize "sir" and "madam" when they aren't proper nouns?
The convention for business letters in Australia is similar to that described in this thread. I don't believe Australia is any more or less formal than other English speaking countries when it comes to business correspondence. Madam (or Sir or Ma'am) is not commonly used in speech which is possibly why your Australian friend found it unusual.I don't know how they write business letters in Australia, but they often call their politicians by their first names.
I think this sounds really odd in BE usage: in my experience it's nearly always non-native speakers who do it. Certainly, the custom I was always taught is to use "Dear [person's name]" if you know it, or "Dear Sir or Madam" if you don't.You are probably better served using a title instead of Sirs or Madams. The titles are usually not gender-specific.
Perhaps it does. But it is nonetheless the letter-writing convention in England.I've never come across the distinction "Yours faithfully" for unknowns and "Yours sincerely" for a named addressee (it strikes me as peculiar