Dear Sir/Madam & To Whom It May Concern

Discussion in 'English Only' started by procrastinating pedant, Sep 19, 2009.

  1. procrastinating pedant New Member

    English - Northern Ireland
    What is the appropriate use of each term? Can both terms be used together in the same letter?

    I am writing a letter to a travel company to find out about travel to Cambodia, and I am unsure as to what is the correct way to set it out. This is what I have down at the moment:

    My address line 1
    My address line 2
    My address line 3
    My address line 4


    >>>What to put here?<<<
    Company name
    Company address line 1
    Company address line 2
    Company address line 3
    Company address line 4

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Re: Travel to Cambodia​

    I am very interested in travelling to Cambodia with your company.


    Any help will be greatly appreciated.
  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't think "To whom it may concern" is appropriate in this context (if it ever is).

    If you are writing to the company as a possible future client, it doesn't matter a great deal how you write the letter :)

    Dear Sir/Madam is kind of OK if you don't have a name.

    In other threads you will have seen suggestions that you could start with something more casual, such as "Dear <name of company>". I do that from time to time and no one has refused to take my money or otherwise reacted badly (complaints letters addressed to Dear <name of bank> for example).

    How important is it for you to create a particular impression through this letter?
  4. procrastinating pedant New Member

    English - Northern Ireland
    I am writing in the UK, and it's not particularly important to make an impression.

    I guess it is something I have always been unsure of and thought I would take an opportunity to clear it up once and for all!
  5. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Like panj, I don't care for "To whom it may concern," and I tend to use "Dear Sir or Madam" without the slash. If you don't like those, you can, in this case, try "Dear Travel Advisor" or "Dear Travel Consultant."
  6. Wayland Banned

    I would use to whom it may concern in a written document such as a reference/introduction/passport etc where the future reader is unknown at the time of writing and indeed may be read by more than one person.
  7. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, it looks as if you DO know who you are writing to, since it looks as if you are including the addressee's address. In this case 'To whom it may concern' is inappropriate.

    I think 'Dear Sir or Madam' is fine and won't cause offence. Panj and Copyright have provided the alternatives.

Share This Page