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"Safe" email greetings for international English?
Thread poster: Niina Lahokoski

Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 11:58
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Jun 21, 2013

Inspired by the interesting discussion in the thread Have a nice day??, I'd like to know your opinion, fellow colleagues:
What would you consider "widely acceptable" and "neither annoying nor offensive" greetings for use in international English email correspondence? By which I mean emails in English that could be written and read by native and non-native speakers alike.
I personally tend to use "Best regards" and the occasional "Have a nice afternoon/day/weekend", but after reading the above topic I'm not so sure they're the best options.

Fire away!


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 14:28
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Dear.... With regards, Jun 21, 2013

Most of my emails follow this pattern. For example, if I were writing to you, it would go the first time as :

Dear Niina Lahokoski,

Blah Blah Blah

With regards,
Balasubramaniam


After a couple of such exchanges, it would become:

Dear Niina,

Blah Blah Blah

With regards,
Bala

No one has so far told me that this is offensive, so I suppose it is acceptable.

Note that I have not prefaced the name with a Mr./Ms./Mrs. etc. The reason is not disrespect or my wanting to get familiar with the person, but it is simply because of a genuine practical consideration. With most Western names, as well as Japanese and Chinese names (in fact, with all non-Indian names) I have a great difficulty in making out whether it is a male name or a female name. So I avoid the honorific to play it safe.

Most people find my name rather long, so I give them the liberty to shorten it to just Bala. In the forums, once or twice I have also had it shortened to just a B., and I have not found this in the least bit offensive.


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Texte Style
Local time: 10:58
French to English
Bala Jun 21, 2013

I too put "Kind regards" or "Best regards" and if we get to discuss anything apart from business then I will wish them a great weekend (or whatever is coming up).

If in any doubt, I use the same greetings as the person I'm answering.


Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Most people find my name rather long, so I give them the liberty to shorten it to just Bala. In the forums, once or twice I have also had it shortened to just a B., and I have not found this in the least bit offensive.


I'm glad to read that!
As far as I'm concerned, I'm just trying to be friendly when I call you Bala, otherwise I would copy and paste the whole sheboodle.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 10:58
English to Polish
+ ...
Whatever works in both US and UK English without being too outdated or too forward Jun 21, 2013

'Dear Mr/Ms'* and 'Sincerely' can't really go wrong. 'Regards', 'kind regards' (my personal favourite) or 'best regards' can't either.

* Obviously Dear Fullname if you don't know the sex, Dear Sir or Dear Madam if you don't know the surname, etc.

Sometimes I deviate and just use a 'hello'. I've also used 'good afternoon/evening' in e-mails that are clearly computer messages and not formal letters.

[Edited at 2013-06-21 17:28 GMT]


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Texte Style
Local time: 10:58
French to English
Ms Jun 21, 2013

I've always been a strong supporter of Ms and just yesterday had to white out a form where my brother had obligingly ticked the wrong box. As far as I'm concerned it's rarely necessary for anyone to know my marital status. I've even ticked "Mr" then put "F" for female on some forms when "Ms" wasn't available.

For years I've been telling the French they need to add a box for Ms, then someone recently told me it was better to only have "Mr/Ms" , with Miss and Mrs being quietly dropped.

All very confusing, it would be nice to get some feedback!


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Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 10:58
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Anything other than slang, really Jun 21, 2013

I don't *do* slang greetings unless they are between good friends.

Dear [so and so]

and

Thanks,
Sarai

are my preferred greetings when corresponding with someone I am not familiar with, but I use

Hi [so and so]

After we have become more familiar.

What I don't like is when people can't spend the less than 5 seconds that it would take to write some kind of greeting. That feels a bit impersonal.

I miss written letters and "Yours sincerely"


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 10:58
English to Polish
+ ...
It is sometimes possible for someone to be offended by Ms Jun 21, 2013

Texte Style wrote:

I've always been a strong supporter of Ms and just yesterday had to white out a form where my brother had obligingly ticked the wrong box. As far as I'm concerned it's rarely necessary for anyone to know my marital status. I've even ticked "Mr" then put "F" for female on some forms when "Ms" wasn't available.

For years I've been telling the French they need to add a box for Ms, then someone recently told me it was better to only have "Mr/Ms" , with Miss and Mrs being quietly dropped.

All very confusing, it would be nice to get some feedback!


For example a woman who knows that you know that she's married, especially among those people who are more on the socially conservative side.


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Vuk Vujosevic  Identity Verified
Montenegro
Local time: 10:58
English to Serbian
+ ...
agree Jun 22, 2013

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Most of my emails follow this pattern. For example, if I were writing to you, it would go the first time as :

Dear Niina Lahokoski,

Blah Blah Blah

With regards,
Balasubramaniam


After a couple of such exchanges, it would become:

Dear Niina,

Blah Blah Blah

With regards,
Bala

No one has so far told me that this is offensive, so I suppose it is acceptable.

Note that I have not prefaced the name with a Mr./Ms./Mrs. etc. The reason is not disrespect or my wanting to get familiar with the person, but it is simply because of a genuine practical consideration. With most Western names, as well as Japanese and Chinese names (in fact, with all non-Indian names) I have a great difficulty in making out whether it is a male name or a female name. So I avoid the honorific to play it safe.

Most people find my name rather long, so I give them the liberty to shorten it to just Bala. In the forums, once or twice I have also had it shortened to just a B., and I have not found this in the least bit offensive.


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Vuk Vujosevic  Identity Verified
Montenegro
Local time: 10:58
English to Serbian
+ ...
agree Jun 22, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

'Dear Mr/Ms'* and 'Sincerely' can't really go wrong. 'Regards', 'kind regards' (my personal favourite) or 'best regards' can't either.

* Obviously Dear Fullname if you don't know the sex, Dear Sir or Dear Madam if you don't know the surname, etc.

Sometimes I deviate and just use a 'hello'. I've also used 'good afternoon/evening' in e-mails that are clearly computer messages and not formal letters.

[Edited at 2013-06-21 17:28 GMT]


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:58
English to Japanese
+ ...
Hello and thanks Jun 22, 2013

at the beginning and the end of the email without addressing you and without the sender's name is out of the question, I suppose...

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Always "Thanks"? Jun 22, 2013

Certainly there are times when it finishes an email nicely. But I can't imagine it finishing every one. I normally use "Best regards" in emails, "Yours sincerely" in the unlikely event that I'm sending a letter. As for the greeting, I've been teaching EFL for years and telling students how it must be done. But our communications seem a bit different from the examples in English business exams, so I find myself forced to break my own rules. Dear first name second name I use quite often if research doesn't show gender or if I'm notg actually sure which name is which.

Why do people object to "Hello" though? I find it a totally neutral form of address. And known in many countries.


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Jennifer Lopez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dear Full name, Sincerely Jun 24, 2013

In English I have always put:

Dear Mr. John Doe or Dear Ms. Jane Doe of Dear First Name Surname (first contact)

Dear Mr. Doe or Dear Ms. Doe (second contact)

Dear John or Dear Jane (when the other person has given me the go ahead).


And to close, I always write:

Sincerely,
Jennifer

If I become friendly with a client, as happened recently when we became pen pals of all things, I sign my letters:

Have a great day!
~Jenni~


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:58
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Hello Jun 24, 2013

I do NOT like being addressed by a Hello, so I do not use it. I always begin with Dear Mr/Ms + Surname, or Si/Madam, if I do not know the name or cannot decide if the person is a male or female.
I end with a thank you and Regards underneath, as nowadays, these are accepted, unless it is a formal letter or application, in which case I would use Yours sincerely.


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Decipherit  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:58
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Carry on what you're doing Jun 24, 2013

I'd start with a "Hello" or "Hi" (if I've corresponded with them previously) and end with "Kind/Best regards". I've heard some people on this site get a bit twitchy about the latter; the former appears to have fewer enemies. As Texte Style says, I'd reserve "Have a nice afternoon/weekend etc." for correspondence where you've strayed a little from purely business matters or if you're particularly grateful for a client's input/help with a particular issue (the kind of day that ends with a "Phew!").

I keep "Dear" for letters and the usual rules should apply there, i.e. end with "Yours sincerely" if you know their name, otherwise "Yours Faithfully".

On the subject of "Ms" (albeit marginally off-topic): while I have always used it as my own title and I use it as a generic term for all women, it has recently come to my attention that it is now commonly understood (at least in Britain) to refer to a woman who is divorced.


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:58
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Ms. Jun 24, 2013

I usually do not know the marital status of the person, so find it correct to use it. Besides, I know women who are married but do not like being addressed as Mrs. I do not suppose Ms applies to divorced only though, so I find it quite safe unless you know the marital status.

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