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

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Aleessa

Member
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.
 
  • *cat*

    Senior Member
    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.
     

    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.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    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.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    That repetition seems unnecessary to me. What ambiguity are you referring to?
     

    Loob

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

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British 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. ;)
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    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.
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

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

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    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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