I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!

Dear Readers,
I’ve been pondering how we start and end our correspondence, particularly electronically (which is 99% of the correspondence I get these days anyway). I made a quick list the other day of some of the greetings and closes I’ve received recently. I laughed when I read it back, because it sounds like a poem. Here is my list, which I’ve even given a poetic title:

 Truly, sincerely, faithfully

Hi/Dear

Sir/Madam

Madam/Sir

To whom it may concern

How are you?

I hope you’re well

 

Kind, best, warm regards

Yours truly, sincerely, faithfully

All good things

In solidarity

Bye for now

Thank you

Cheers

When I was growing up, there were strict rules about letter writing. You started with “Dear so-and-so [comma]”. You then indented the next sentence on the line below. This sentence should contain a greeting: “I hope you’re well”, if it was an informal letter to a friend or acquaintance, or a statement of the purpose of the correspondence if it was a business or professional letter.

How you ended your letter would depend on your relationship with the person.  If it was a formal letter, you would thank them for their attention and then sign off with “Yours faithfully” if it was a first letter on business, then “Yours sincerely” in subsequent letters. Historically, Americans use “Yours truly” and “Sincerely Yours” in the same way. There’s a link here to more on the rules, if you’re interested.

Nowadays, of course, the old rules have been relaxed, especially with the advent of emails. Hardly anyone starts an email with “Dear…” any more, particularly young people. They almost always write “Hi…”.

I always sign off with “Love, Caron” if I’m emailing close friends or relatives, or “Cheers” for colleagues or acquaintances (for want of anything that doesn’t sound as formal as “Regards” nor as familiar as “Love”). Because I write so many emails to friends and relatives, putting “Love, Caron” is almost automatic: I often double-check emails to my students to make sure I have put “Regards” and not “Love” absentmindedly, because the latter would sound weirdly inappropriate!

And I often think “Cheers” might not always be appropriate for acquaintances, because of its connotations with drinking. But as I say, I can’t think of anything else, so I use it reluctantly.

Sometimes, I just sign my name, without a closing “Cheers” or “Regards”. Then again, many people don’t bother to sign off emails at all, because their name is at the top anyway.

By the way, “In solidarity” is how staff at my union sign off, and “All good things” is the hallmark of a happy friend.

Cheers,

Caron

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9 thoughts on “I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!

  1. “Cheers” seems to be nice and pleasant enough for most purposes. Seems like it’s more commonly used by people from Commonwealth countries, but it’s caught on amongst people in the States a bit too. I think it’s used widely enough outside of drinking that people wouldn’t necessarily associate it with that, although it might not be bad if they do!

  2. Signing off an email with something warm like Sincerely,
    or
    Love,
    always conveys to me the person is kind & fes comfortable with me. I do it too – guess it’s an old habit from the days of us writing letters. 🙂
    Something still so special about a handwritten letter. Sometimes I fear technology might be ruining us…

    • Yes, I agree. The words are from the days of politeness and chivalry. Handwritten letters are wonderful (though people are so out of practice now that their handwriting is often too dreadful to read). My husband still writes the occasional one to his elderly father or even his children.

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