Dear Sir/Madam

It was bound to happen. Father Time. Time waits for nobody. Every day you get older, that’s a fact and so on and so forth. Well, that day has come to pass.

Old(ish) respectable me has been asked to give someone a character reference for a job. He’s definitely scraping the bottom of the bucket coming to me but I will still do my utmost to help this acquaintance. And then I remembered I’ve forgotten how to write a letter. The bottom bit anyway.

Is it yours sincerely or yours faithfully? From what I recall being taught it’s sincerely for addressing a friend and faithfully for a formal business letter. But this was back in the dark ages. Language mutates. Going against all my principles I googled. And as I expected google clouded the matter further. Too many minds out there offering advice. Information overload. Every man and his dog has an opinion.

One school told me that If my name was mentioned in correspondence (it was) and the sender gives his name (he did) I should reply with a sincerely. I much prefer the old fashioned faithfully, however, another board said faithfully has been dropped like third year French and replaced by “yours truly” for a business letter.

I think I’ll go for a “yours &c”

34 thoughts on “Dear Sir/Madam”

  1. Dear JW,

    Yours sincerely,


    Dear Sir,

    Yours faithfully,


    PS.JW, yours truly is truly naff, in my humble opinion. Kind regards, A

  2. Dear Ara.

    I am happy to inform you that on this occasion you have been successful. Truthfully.

    Yours…umm, what was it again? Drat. Need to read your comment again. Back soon.

  3. Dear Ara,

    Starting from now you are my official proper-way-to-end-a-letter specialist.

    Yours..oh for crying out loud, it’s gone again. Need to check. It wasn’t truly. Think. Think. Think.
    Go for it.

    Sincerely yours,

  4. To whom it may concern (aka JW)

    I have no hesitation in recommending Ara for her clear explanation of correct sincerely/faithfully usage and for her shunning of ‘truly’ which is never, ever, scrumptious when one is Yoursing a letter.

    We used to have another one up here in Caledonia for close friends – ‘Yours aye’. Salmond has killed that one for me until after we gub him in the Referendum.

    If you are still looking for alternative letter endings, ‘Live long and prosper’ has always had a certain ring to it, in my opinion.

  5. Dear castle-dwelling cousin,

    I had a list of alternative closers. It didn’t seem wise to use “yours in earnest” or to wish a Good New Year to the prospective sincere employer. Goes against your rules, I think.

    The goal posts have indeed sprouted at Ibrox. Faithfully, I mean Hopefully, they’ll remain like that for the new season. Ian Black and Lee McCulloch will score a barrel of drop kicks.

    Commonwealthfully, last night’s opener was good. I don’t normally watch the midgie bin when it’s on the box but HRH was in good form.

    Yours Westcentrically,


  6. Howzit T

    Rugby at Ibrox 🙂

    Which reminds me, I’m told that if sending your “Dear Sir / Madam” electronically leave out the smiley faces!

    Kind regards


  7. G’dag, Soutie. In biz I always used ‘ best regards’ – marginally less hyprocritical than ‘kind regards’, especially when writing to those who inspired little kindness.

  8. Môre Jay

    Really! I’ve never given the kind / best debate a thought (up until know.)

    Although I only use it electronically and to be honest normally abbreviate it to a simple “Rgds”

    With thanks


  9. The Danes use the phrase ‘with friendly greetings’ without fail – which can sometimes seem less than truthful!



  10. Soutie: Worse than that, ****ic played a Champions League match at Murrayfield. Is nothing sacred ?!

    TR: What is wrong with “I remain your humble and obedient servant.” ? 🙂

  11. TR: Here’s one from old Ben to his MP.

    Philada. July 5. 1775

    Mr. Strahan

    You are a Member of Parliament, and one of that Majority which has doomed my Country to Destruction. You have begun to burn our Towns and murder our People. — Look upon your hands! They are stained with the Blood of your Relations! — You and I were long Friends:— You are now my Enemy, — and

    I am,


    B. Franklin

  12. FEEG, no swearing allowed. I have edited your comment. You should know by now I abhor the c word. 🙂

    That’s a slice of history you’ve reprinted, LW. Lots of capitalisation and exclamation marks. First time I’ve seen that letter, many thanks.

    Have been perusing rejection letters. Just think Tarzan didn’t almost make it to the page ergo we wouldn’t have seen Maureen O’Sullivan cavorting on screen as Jane.

  13. JW – Good evening and good drills from you @ 9.38 pm. We can’t allow filthy language on The Chariot and FEEG ought to consider himself royally chastised. 🙂

    As to the topic in question, I was perfectly comfortable with Araminta’s original example as this was also as I understood it and was taught.

    Now I am confused.



  14. I wish to point out that, I too,regard the C***ic word as in very poor taste and that my late father in law was a very keen Rangers fan! I am afraid banning words will not hide the dreadfulness they represent! 🙂

  15. Looked like a good day at Ibrox yesterday, the main event of course is today, match of the day? Scotland v S.A. (14.12 SAST)

  16. I always subscribed to my father’s favourite-

    You sir, have the honour to be my humble and obedient servant.

    (Shows you the power of inherited genetics!)

  17. LW, good evening.

    Thanks for this. It led to a fascinating Google.

    What attracted me was your statement that Strahan was Ben’s MP, given that the main reason for the Colonials revolting was that they did not have any MPs at Parliament – ”No Taxation without Representation’.

    Strahan was indeed an MP, having bought the constituency of Malmesbury. in 1774. Yet another Jock, born in Embra, who took the high road to London to become the publisher of Johnson’s Dictionary,of the works of David Hume and Adam Smith and,in due course, Printer to the King. On the way, he changed his name from Strachan to Strahan and from being a supporter of the Colonies in their complaints to voting for the Lord North measures which were intended to crush them. No wonder Ben drafted the letter in 1775.

    Interesting to read that he thought better of it and never sent it. Shades of modern e-mail and posting rage and the wisdom of sleeping on them before firing them off.

    It seems that his last letter to Strahan was in 1783:-:

    ‘My dear old Friend,—Whom I shall probably never have the Pleasure of seeing again; You some Time since recommended Miss Beckwith to me; I in consequence recommended her to my Children in Philadelphia; the enclos’d will give you some Information of her present Situation. I hope you and yours continue well, as does

    Your affectionate Friend & humble Servant

    B Franklin’

  18. Soutie, Whooooo!

    Well done the Bokke! Good to see NZ finally getting stuffed. Ibrox has never looked lovelier.

    And it almost makes up for the Sharks debacle yesterday.

  19. What an excellent afternoon / evening of 7’s rugby, topped off by a magnificent win for the Blitzbokke.

    I team ~ 12 Golds!

  20. I use the term ‘evening’ rather loosely here. What is it with European sports administrators that the schedule matches so late?

    The final kicked off at 9.37pm (Glasgow time) finished at about 10 past 10, we then had almost a half hour wait for the medal ceremony!

    How on earth is a family man supposed to take his (young) family to events such as these? No wonder children end up glued to game consoles and the like when outdoor healthy sporting events are placed out of reach.

  21. Hi Soutie.

    Different countries and different climates make for different customs, I suppose.

    For a start, all UK pupils are presently on holiday with the English having only just started and with the Scots due to go back around the middle of August. So, no school to worry about the next day.

    Sunset in Glasgow yesterday was at 9.33 pm with dusk lasting until 10.23 pm. We use our long summer evenings to compensate for the very short winter days which we have to thole. Children often stay up late at this time of year for special sporting or social occasions.

    Bear in mind as well that the vast majority of the population of Scotland lives within 100 miles of Glasgow and that the English border is less than 90 miles away. A lot of the day trippers to Ibrox probably had their tired but happy children tucked up in bed not very long after midnight.

  22. And another thing, Soutie.

    None of your ’12 Golds’ nonsense! The facts are that you are in 7th place with 6 Golds and that we are 3rd with 11 behind the Aussies (26) and the Southrons (24).

    Moving on, Chad’s gold was really popular with the home crowd. It all follows on from the Bert ‘Unbelievable’ Le Clos Olympic phenomenon

    The TV camera hardly left Bert and Geraldine when Chad was getting his medal this weekend.

    Bert is also a star on the BBC Commonwealth Games website with his Unbelievable Scottish South African Braai. You should not be able to see as it is for UK viewers only but here’s the link in case you happen to be into IP spoofing.

  23. Has anyone, too busy to sit slumped in front of the plasma all day, turned to Auntie BEEB at 10.30 pm to watch ‘Tonight at the Games’ expecting to see a professionally presented round up of the day’s events?

    Dream on. It is like the audience from any low budget daytime TV show escaped and invaded the National Lottery studios directed by Simon Cowell and wassname who choreographed the Olympics ceremonies. It goes on for an hour every night and is unrelentingly, toe-curlingly, mind-numbingly awful. There is little sports coverage yet many interviews with ‘çelebs’, pushy parents and quotes from ‘social meeja;. You can just feel the IQ leeching out of your ears. Following this waste of electricity and oxygen there is ‘Commonwealth Games Sportsday’, a fifteen minute proper round up of the day’s highlights which really ought to be an hour and fifteen minutes long.

    Damn! The fur is prickling and I can feel an Olympic style rant coming on.


    Yours, feeling the whole world has gone mad,


  24. I have to confess that I haven’t watched any of the Commonwealth Games broadcasts. I just keep tabs on the medals table, where I can see that Scotland is doing remarkably well for a wee country.

  25. Howzit JM

    Ja well, I still think that it’s far too late.

    It defies logic to me but then I gave some thought to a comment made during the long long wait for the medal ceremony. One commentator mentioned an attendance for the event of 170,000 plus!

    Now a quick search tells me the the capacity at Ibrox is 51,000.

    Does this mean that the (stealing, money grabbing) organisers split the event up into 4 sessions to maximise income? At our HSBC Sevens you simply pay for the full day.

    Resulting in the time taken to empty and (re)fill the stadium pushing the finals events out so late?

    For the record (from my 2011 HSBC Sevens World Series programme) …

    Last pool match start (day 1) 20:38
    Final start (day 2) 19:40

  26. Can’t see the Empire Games here – thank goodness. The general air of cosy triumphalism conveyed by the BBC Live blogsite is enough already!

  27. Have there been any statistics on the number of ‘Scottish’ athletes who will not be able to vote in the referendum because they do actually have a post code north of the border?

  28. I was taught that if you start with Dear Sir or Madam then it’s Yours faithfully. and if you name them (formally) i.e. Dear Mr Smith, Dear Miss Jones then it’s Yours sincerely.
    Anything informal is whatever you like love, cheers etc etc.
    I hate this modern thing ‘Kind regards’…I might put brgds.

    Anyway royalist yours &c is pretty cool. How about Your obt svt

Add your Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s