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Salutations for Letters or Emails – Part 1

The salutation in a letter or email is the greeting at the very beginning.
For formal or business letters and emails, you can use these types of salutations:

  • Dear Dr. McQuillan:
  • Dear Drs. McQuillan and Tse:
  • Dear President McQuillan and Ambassador Tse:

Tips (advice):
1. Notice that we use a colon ” : ” after the name or names when it is a formal business letter. If this is a less formal and more social letter or message, we use a comma ” , ” after the name instead: For example, “Dear Dr. McQuillan,” or “Dear Ms. Rodriguez,”
2. Use the title Ms. for a woman, unless she tells you that she prefers Miss or Mrs.
3. Never spell out the titles Mr., Ms., Mrs., and Dr.
4. Do spell out these titles and similar ones: Professor, Dean, Senator, Governor, Captain, Judge
5. If you are writing to a company or department rather than any specific individual, use the company or department name:

  • Dear Northwest Airlines:
  • Dear Googlepleasebuyour Company:
  • Dear Customer Service:

If your message is informal or if you already know the person you are writing fairly well, you can use these salutations, with or without a comma before the name:

  • Dear Jeff,
  • Hi Jeff, (or Hi, Jeff,)
  • Hello Lucy, (or Hello, Lucy,)
  • Jeff,
  • Good morning Lucy, (or Good morning, Lucy,)

Next week, I’ll talk about which salutations to use if you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing, and/or don’t know the gender (male or female; man or woman) of the person who will read your letter or note.

~ Lucy

17 Responses to “Salutations for Letters or Emails – Part 1”

  1. Patrick Says:

    Oh my God! I’ll have to wait another week to send you the email I’m writting. So, dear Drs. McQuillan and Tse, you’ll know what I’m talking about next week. Be patient as I have to.
    Thanks a lot for your podcast


  2. Mohammed Osama Says:

    very helpful Lucy. keep going

  3. Mohammed Osama Says:

    but it’s a very long term to wait up to next week

  4. priscilla Says:

    nice to learn that. it would be great if you could advise how to use those salutations while replying emails as well.

  5. Uyen thuduong Says:

    how do you do Lucy. My name is Thu Uyenduong,I’m a Vietnamese.I read your salutation and I felt it’s very useful.I hope that you will more success in the future.Good bye and have a good day.

  6. ESLPodcast Google Group Says:

    Formal latter are much more hard to write, we need be careful for donĀ“t make big mistakes and to cause a good impression.

    Take care Jeff and Lucy.


  7. Jamshid Says:

    Hi lucy
    Thanks a lot for interesting BLOG this week.
    I think it’s very important to know how we begin our E.Mail or letter.
    But dear lucy one week is a long time to wait for next part .
    Jamshid from Berlin

  8. Henry L. Says:

    I hope every listener(include me) of ESL Podcast will appreciate how hard that your effort. :-)

    Best ever regards!

    Henry Luong

    Edgewater, NJ

  9. Rama Says:

    Dear Jef and Lucy
    Thank you for your podcast
    You are both hardworking. With your website we don`t need to go to english class. I `ve got used to read your weblog everyday.
    THank you
    From Iran

  10. Sara Says:

    thanks Lucy, it was great. but I just didn’t understand what does “spell out” mean?

  11. Hatem El Baz Says:

    Hi Lucy,

    Thank you for the first Part but we need more and more but not weekly.
    We need choice phrases to beginning emails and letters and how use numbers in the messages (beginning & meddle and ending).

    With my best regards
    Hatem El Baz

  12. hy Says:

    Oh, my god. I always send you emails with a wrong begining. I think I won’t make a mistake in this again. Thank you, Lucy! I’m really looking forward to you next lesson.
    Best wishes from Si Chuan, China.

  13. Jeff Says:

    Dear Jeff and Lucy,

    Thanks for your hard work.
    People always says : do what you love and love what you do,I think both of you are doing the right things.Goodluck.
    Because of you,I will keep on improve my poor English.Thanks again?


  14. Dat Bui Says:

    Thanks, Lucy. It’s very useful. Hope to see the next part soon.

  15. Jamshid Says:

    Hi lucy and Jeff and all podcast fun
    I search my words always in a online dictionary . you can find every words in this dictionary .
    it’s very helpful and you can find your words in many languages translated in your native language
    Jamshid From Berlin Germany

  16. Dr. Lucy Tse Says:

    Sara, to answer your question, “to spell out” means to not use an abbreviation or short form of a word. For example, “Dr.” is an abbreviation and “Doctor” is spelled out. I hope that’s clear.

    ~ Lucy

  17. Sara Says:

    Thank you so much Lucy! I appreciate your explanation.