English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am not a native speaker and I'm having trouble with formalities like opening and ending emails. In German, it is common to end an informal email with the phrase Viele Grüße, which means "Many greetings", sometimes together with your location. For example, when you're on holiday it would be Viele Grüße aus Spanien, meaning "Many greetings from Spain".

Is there a way to end an email or letter with such a greeting in English? When I googled this, I read that greetings are only put at the beginning of letters, not at the end. Could I end an informal email with "Greetings from Germany, name" or just "Greetings, name"?

If not, what other common ways are there to end informal emails? I am writing to someone I don't know in person, but it is still formal (so I can't write something like "See ya").

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Kris, Robusto, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Rory Alsop, Hellion May 26 '14 at 17:25

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

It's less about the English language than about custom and culture. No two e-mails may sign off on the same note of greetings, as it depends on many factors. At the simplest, the question is about etiquette. – Kris May 26 '14 at 12:57
This question is not about the English language. OTOH, it may open the floodgates to 'opinions.' – Kris May 26 '14 at 13:00
Hello; I must be going ... – Edwin Ashworth May 26 '14 at 15:08
Some emails are written formally, literally an electronic version of what would have beeen a formal written letter. Other emails are more casual, written as memos. Still others are rather informal, even conversational in tone, and at the other extreme some people write emails as if they were IM or text messages. If you're writing a formal letter, close it as you would close a printed version. If you're not writing a "letter," no signoff is really needed. – choster May 26 '14 at 15:55
up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Greetings", by definition, should only be at the beginning of a letter. "Wishes", on the other hand, can go at the end :-)

Something I write often is "best wishes from [wherever I'm currently at, if I'm on vacation]" - and such a structure is definitely appropriate at the end of a letter.

That said, Jon is also correct that sometimes mentioning where you are is more appropriate in the beginning of a letter. I think a reasonable distinction is: if the reason you're writing is because you're e.g. on holiday and want to say how things are going, then start off with that. But if you're writing to colleagues about work-related things, and happen to be someplace interesting at the time (say, on holiday, at a conference, etc), you might want add the "best wishes from X" at the end.

Put simply, I'd say it depends on how important it is for them to know where you are to understand the rest of the letter.

As for other terms, "Best regards," is suitable for a variety of situations (it's not nearly as formal as "sincerely" or "yours faithfully", but you also wouldn't use it for your family or close friends), while its shortened version, "Best," is a quick and informal ending. As Drew points out in the comments below, "Regards," is another option - while I personally only use it when I'm trying to be civil to somebody who I don't enjoy writing to, to (most?) others, it's a perfectly good alternative that allows you to use "best regards" for those you appreciate a bit more.

If I don't know the person, I generally go with either "best" or "best regards" the first time around, and then "best" in any subsequent e-mails.

share|improve this answer
To write wishes or regards seems like a good substitute. Thanks a lot for your help. – Kodama May 26 '14 at 14:28
@DominicDeCoco My pleasure :) – Alicja Z May 26 '14 at 14:33
Just "Regards, Alicja" is fine for most purposes. I would reserve "Best regards" for showing extra appreciation. But that's probably just me. – Drew May 26 '14 at 14:45
@Drew You're right, there's also just "regards" - I forgot about that one because to me it always feels a bit dry, impersonal or something (I can't really explain it), so I don't actually use it unless I'm unhappy with someone at work but still need to e-mail them about something... But that's just me :) – Alicja Z May 26 '14 at 19:57
In that case, everyone gets "Best regards"? When all are regarded equally it devalues "best". Sure, a teacher can give everyone in a class A+ grades, but then A+ doesn't mean anything special anymore. YMMV. – Drew May 26 '14 at 21:44

In English it would be more common to put such a greeting at the beginning of an email as the salutation, rather than in the valediction at the end.

A greeting from a particular place while travelling wouldn't be unheard of, but would read more like a postscript, as in you just remembered you should offer a greeting from where you are, than a normal valediction.

A common valediction in email is to use "Regards" with your name on the next line (or perhaps included in a preset signature). It is neither as formal as "Yours faithfully" nor as informal as a blessing or "see ya" or leaving off the salutation entirely (more acceptable with email than paper letters, but still informal), and so it covers quite a range of formality.

Some people who are from a culture that is not English-speaking or historically not English-speaking might use a salutation from their native language or the language of their ethnic background (I might sign off with "Beannacht leat," though I don't actually speak Irish). You might also if visiting a country use a salutation from that country. Hence you could choose to use "Viele Grüße" at the end of an otherwise English email, or "hola de España" in your example of currently being in Spain.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, that was really helpful. I would accept your answer too if I could. :) – Kodama May 26 '14 at 14:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.