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EaglePrince

Starting a formal letter

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So, this definitely belongs to this subforum, as if this is not game related, nothing is. :)

 

I just wanted to start a short discussion here about what you thing would be a good starting of a formal letter in English? In Serbian I would start with "Po?tovani...", which means "respected" or "the respected one", and was looking many times about how to start a formal letter in English, and each time I feel awkward when I see suggested openings. :) For example, would "Dear Sir or Madam..." sound good? It's that that "dear" in my language wouldn't be used like that, it is more common for an elder person (or perhaps on a higher position) to write "dear", while I would never say "dear professor". :)

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Tough one. It depends on what Country. The protocol list is long. Are you writing to a Professor in your Country (and in English? ) - or to one in another Country. If you can narrow it a bit........

True, even in America we are taught "Dear" 90% of the time. However when addressing certain Offices, the rules change (even more so with The UK System)

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It would be a formal letter I would send with application for a summer school, so it would be a professor who would read it. I know that we were thought that we can start with "To whom it may concern", but I don't know if that doesn't sound weird. Still, that's why I'm here, you know better what does sound appropriate for the situation. :) I just get that feeling of opening being weird only because of how it sounds in my language.

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Personally, I would only use To whom it may concern if it is some kind of manager who you didn't know, and you didn't know who you were addressing it to. I wrote a formal complaint a few months ago, if you know the person of know their name (i.e. even your immediate boss or CEO) then use their name, for example Dear John Briggs. Dear Sir/Madam should only really be used if you don't know their gender but know what department or place it should go.

 

This is the way I interpret it. In your case, I would try to find out their name. If you can't, I'd write it to the head office or secretary instead - that would be the time to use to whom it may concern - unless you are fairly confident you could still address it to them.


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Good that you explain a few more details, Eagle Prince. That helps to know the situation and give better advice.

 

Like Chris said, "to whom it may concern" would not be the best approach for an application letter. It is very formal, but also very impersonal. Good for sending a complaint letter or if you only want to record some information for the files but don't want to address anyone in particular.

 

I sometimes write those "to whom it may concern" letters which then continue like "It is hereby confirmed that the following experiments were done in compliance with the following ISO standard ...blablabla... and that all required data checks according to our Quality Control System have been conducted." Signed, dated and hopefullly no more questions asked.

 

 

I know that in some languages "Dear" would only be used for friends or people you know very well. But in English it is actually also a formal address. "Dear Prof. Dr. Soandso" would be perfectly acceptable. Even if you know that the letter will first be opened by his assistant.

Edited by Nigel

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Thanks for your explanations, this really helps. :) So, "to whom it may concern" is the best when I don't know the person, and that would be like that one "po?tovani" ("respected") in my language. And the fact that "dear" is fine i for those situations in English.:)

 

Thanks for your help and detailed explanations.

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