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How to start a letter - Examples of opening sentences and salutation

Updated on July 30, 2012

Here you can read how start a letter in English. One of the most important things of writing letters, whether they are business letters or informal letters, is to open correctly and appropriately. In this article I will provide you with example sentences of how to begin or start business letters and informal letters in English. This article is mainly meant to help out foreigners trying to write letters in the Englis language.

When applying these examples you can be confident to leave a professional or appriopriate impression.

How to address the recipient

Here is where it all begins, and it is crucial that you get this right. Addressing someone incorrectly will put a negative shadow over the remainder of your letter. Whether it concerns the start of a Business letter or an informal letter, there are a few things that you should know.

In a formal business letter

Firstly, in English letters one does not put a dot ( . ) behind Mr. and Dr. etc., but in American letter one does. Secondly, married women should be addressed with Mrs. Unmarried women should be addressed with Miss. If you are not sure about whether someone is married that you can use Ms.

Possible forms of addressing someone: Mr, Dr, Mrs, Miss, Ms,

Also be aware that academic titles will be different from country to country.

In a personal informal letter

Here it is also important to consider how to address the recipient. Seeing that you most likely know the person, it would be awkward to use the neutral Ms. Usually it is ok to simply use the persons first name. When it is an older person or something that you do not know very well it is also find to simply stick to the more formal Mr. etc.

Salutation - Opening greetings

When you start a business letter in English the first thing you should decide on is how to phrase your salutation or greetings. As you can imagine, there is a large difference between the beginning of a business letter in comparision to the opening of an informal letter. Here are examples of how to start an english letter when it comes to the salutation of both forms of letters.

The salutation in an English business letter

When you know the name or the title of the recipient you should always incorporate this in the salutation.

  • Dear Mr. Black,
  • Dear Professor Snape,
  • Dear Dr. White,
  • Dear Jimmy Connor,
  • Dear Ms. Jones,

If you do not know the name:

  • Dear Sir / Madam,

When it concerns an abstract person or persons, you can use the following salutations:

  • Dear Resident,
  • Dear All,
  • Dear Children,
  • Dear Customer,

The salutation in an English informal letter

  • Dear Brother,
  • Hi David,
  • Dear Mr. Black,
  • Dear Dr, Johson,
  • Dear David,

Examples of good start/opening sentences

In the first paragraph you usually introduce the topic of the letter. In English and American letters people also often start the letter with social niceties. Some good opening sentences you could use:

How to start a business letter in English - Examples:


  • Thank you for your letter regarding the
  • With reference to your letter of 20 December, we
  • We are writing in response to
  • I am writing to enquire about
  • In reply to your letter of..., we

How to start an informal letter in English - Examples


  • How are you?
  • How have you been?
  • How is life treating you?
  • How are the kids?
  • I hope you are doing well.

Hopefully this will help you out on starting a letter in English.

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      prity 11 months ago

      could have been improved a little

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      LoL 21 months ago

      Hello

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      simon 22 months ago

      feeling like am in class, thanks.

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      AnGeL 23 months ago

      NoT gooD its for small students ...

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      mary k 1234 24 months ago

      hate

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      Sachi 2 years ago

      Nice opening lines

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      Tony 2 years ago

      This helped so much thanks!

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