Dear ?? [salutation for unknown gender: letter]

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kwfine

New Member
Taiwan
I want to write to the manager of a bus company, the reciver's name is Hisham B.
(I guessed his family name starts with B but his company does not want to show the full surname.)
But the problem is that I am not sure the receiver's gender, and even the surname.
how should I write the appropriate salutation at the beginning of letter in this case?

1. Dear Hisham B
2. Dear Mrs B / Mr B
3. Dear Sir / Madam
4. Dear Hisham

Which one is the best?
Please help me, teachers.

Thank you.


Kitty
 
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    'Hisham' is an arabic name. Their custom is to present the surname first. If we westernise the name, we would call the person B. Hisham.

    To cite a notorious examples. Saddam Hussein had the family name Saddam but his close friends would call him Hussein. Many native English speakers, including some important politicians, seemed unable to grasp this fact.



    For that reason alone, we can eliminate 2 and 4 straight away because they would be like addressing Kylie Minogue as

    2. Dear Mrs Kylie

    and

    4. Dear Minogue :eek::)


    Of the options you provide, I agree with MuttQuad.
     
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    kwfine

    New Member
    Taiwan
    'Hisham' is an arabic name. Their custom is to present the surname first. If we westernise the name, we would call the person B. Hisham.

    To cite a notorious examples. Saddam Hussein had the family name Saddam but his close friends would call him Hussein. Many native English speakers, including some important politicians, seemed unable to grasp this fact.



    For that reason alone, we can eliminate 2 and 4 straight away because they would be like addressing Kylie Minogue as

    2. Dear Mrs Kylie

    and

    4. Dear Minogue :eek::)


    Of the options you provide, I agree with MuttQuad.
    Thank you Biffo.
    So from the surname alone, the gender is unknown.

    Can I write this?
    Dear Miss / Mr Hisham,
    ...
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Welcome to the forum. :)

    Can I write this?
    Dear Miss / Mr Hisham,
    No, I wouldn't advise you to do so. If the recipient is a woman, she may not wish to be addressed as "Miss". I agree with the advice you've already received from MuttQuad and Biffo in posts #2 and #3.
     

    mr cat

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think you should write 'Dear Hisham B. if that is the name given to you and you want to make sure it goes to that person. Biffo's assertions about Arabic names are simply wrong I'm afraid.
     
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    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    To emphasize what JustKate has said, I would use "Dear Sir or Madam," not "Dear Sir/Madam." The slash takes all the charm out of it.

    Alternatively, you can call the bus company and explain the situation and find out how to address this person.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I was perhaps too wide in my assertions in a previous post. I generalised from an individual I know. The fact is that we don't know precisely why the name order is the opposite of normal.

    I agree with Copyright. #8
     
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