How Should a Letter End: “Yours Sincerely” Vs “Yours Faithfully?”

How Should a Letter End: “Yours Sincerely” Vs “Yours Faithfully?”

Feb 22

Yours FaithfullyOkay today’s topic is about ending letters, and the valediction to use when doing so. Should we say “yours sincerely” or should we say “yours faithfully”?

To be honest, I do not particularly care. I think that this is one of those rules which were made in the era when people liked to make rules. Almost all sites that I have visited on the vast Internet, disagree with me.

So today we’re going to take a look, at the specific rule behind the usage of “yours sincerely” and “yours faithfully.”

Let me just come out and say it in as simple terms as possible. Use “yours faithfully” in more formal settings, and “yours sincerely” in less formal ones.

An example could be, use “yours sincerely” when you began the letter by addressing the recipient by his or her name. Instead, if you began your letter by saying something like “Dear Sir,” then you should say “yours faithfully.”

To make this easy for us, a good mnemonic is, “S and S do not go together.” That is short for, Sir and Sincerely do not go together.

Interesting rule, eh!

Of course, when we are taking a trip down the history of valedictions, it is important to note that both, “yours faithfully” and “yours sincerely,” are contractions of more formal endings. “Yours sincerely”, comes from, “I remain yours sincerely.”

Often, I wonder, about the relevance of such rules beyond the English classroom. Sure Ms. Mavis, assuming that is the name of your English teacher, would be very glad to know that you use the correct valediction at the end of a letter. But beyond that, I am usually glad to see any valediction at all. In the age of tweets and text messages, language has deteriorated to the point that even rather liberal writers like me, feel suffocated.Yours Sincerely

So if you were a preparing for an exam, you know the difference between “yours faithfully” in “yours sincerely.” But if you were writing a letter, you probably should go with what suits your personality best. It could be “yours sincerely” or it could be “yours faithfully”. But that is not all. It could also be “best regards” or “sincerely yours.” It would also be the American version of “yours sincerely,” that is, “yours truly.” And based on the comment by Rayomand, let us not overlook “Regards” or for that matter, “Cheers.”

See you again tomorrow, with yet another writing tip.

Yours Faithfully
Ajeet Khurana :)

5 comments

  1. Rayomand Ichhaporia

    Good posts on grammar. However, the punctuation is less than optimal! As an example, consider the following sentence.

    “Often, I wonder, about the relevance of such rules beyond the English classroom.”

    I would argue that it suffers from the symptom of overly enthusiastic use of the comma.

    And what’s up with sentences such as – “But that is not”? I can’t seem to make sense of it. Perhaps it is merely a typo.

    As an aside, I think you do the article a disservice by not also including the most common valediction in use in America today – simply “Regards”. :)

    Cheers.

    • Ajeet Khurana

      Hi Rayomand, Thanks for being one of the earliest commenters on my blog.

      “But that is not” was missing the “all” at the end. I confess to occasionally using speech-to-text, and that was the culprit here. I should have caught it in my editing.

      Commas are like potpourri, you are never sure when they are enough. That, of course, will now be the topic for a new article :)

      Faithful Regards and Sincere Cheers :D
      Ajeet

      PS: The original post was edited to incorporate some of your feedback :)

  2. Ajeet… this is one rule I always break, signing ‘sincerely’ all by itself, and even like this:

    Love and blessings,

    A

    • Ajeet Khurana

      I know what you are saying. One of my favorite sign offs is “Looking Forward.” It is full of optimism and hence sets a positive tone. Like I said in the article, “if you were writing a letter, you probably should go with what suits your personality best.” :)

      Thanks for visiting Anne. I am putting my heart into this blog. So, I hope you will occasionally find it interesting to visit here :)

  3. Maggie Winterson

    Companies/Businesses/Firms can only ever be ‘faithful’ never ‘sincere’

    so: if you are writing on behalf of your firm, its Yours faithfully

    if you are addressing a person by name or in a familiar manner, its Yours sincerely.

    As instructed by my Lecturer when I was doing University English and English Literature.

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