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I want to sign off a letter with the following:

Letter text.

We remain,

Sincerely yours,

Mr Person
Head of Accounting

Is this correct usage? Isn’t this like having 2 salutations? Is it ok to have 2 salutations?

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See this answer for how to end letters: english.stackexchange.com/questions/42205/… –  Matt Эллен Nov 8 '11 at 13:56

4 Answers 4

Use “we remain” in a participial closing¹. It provides the object (we) of the preceding participial phrase.

Here is an example of correct usage. I have added a sample participial phrase, and removed the comma after “remain”.

   Letter text.  

   Hoping this banal participial closing causes no offense, we remain

   Sincerely yours,

   Mr Person
   Head of Accounting

All authorities advise against the participial closing, but not on grammatical grounds. It is deprecated only because it weakens the letter.

References

  1. Commercial Correspondence, p. 112ff
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Any number of other affixes might work in place of "we remain" with a participial closing. I don't think it exactly weakens the letter - though it does that too, I suppose - but it clutters it. Business is very economical and a succinct closing is therefore more appropriate. In personal letters, there is more room to play around and have fun. –  Ryan Nov 8 '11 at 16:15
    
Yes. While the OP was asking about "we remain", it is true that other objects such as "I am" are equally useful after the participial phrase. –  MετάEd Nov 8 '11 at 16:26

The forms shown above are traditional forms and are still perfectly acceptable. Modern casual and business forms are more succinct: the opening salutation and the closing valediction are brief, formulaic, and entirely independent of the sentences in the body text, each of which is complete in itself:

Dear Mr. Smith:

The firm that I represent has paid you the agreed sum foe the delivery of the materials itemized on the attached invoice. The firm has not yet received the expected supplies. Please see that the goods are delivered immediately.

Sincerely,

John Doe

That said, the more traditional form has a certain elegance and if it is not overdone won't come across as particularly strange.

In a personal letter, the greeting might vary more, and ends in a comma rather than a colon. Additionally, valedictions other than "sincerely" are more common in personal writing. The initial word of each paragraph is indented in personal letters. I expect, depending on the audience, the more prosy traditional form might be more appreciated in a personal letter.

In a business letter, the above form is normal and expected. Anything else will produce neutral results at best. The form is to start Dear So-and-so: and to close Sincerely, XYZ. The paragraphs are separated by spaces but are not indented.

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One hundred years ago, the participial closing was already being criticized by various authorities as trite, hackneyed, weak, and a waste of time. Used today, it does not seem so much elegant as archaic. Unless archaic is what you are aiming at, it is very distracting from the actual message the letter is intended to convey. –  MετάEd Nov 8 '11 at 16:46

Some expressions with "We remain" at the end of the sentence :

  1. Hoping to receive the goods without delay, I am,

    Respectfully,

    WILLIAM L. MILLER.

  2. Hoping that my order may receive your usual prompt attention, I am,

    Yours respectfully,

    HENRY M. BARROWS.

  3. Hoping that the goods may prove satisfactory, and that we may be favored with further orders, we remain,

    Yours truly,

    SIBLEY, DUDLEY & CO.

  4. Thanking you for your promptness in filling my order, I am,

    Yours respectfully,

    HENRY GOODFELLOW.

  5. Awaiting further favors, we are,

    Very truly yours,

    DODGE, HOLMES & CO.

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1  
This answer has little to do with how letters are written in the present day and would be improved by making that clear. The source says "The content is taken from Barkham Burroughs' Encylopedia of Astounding facts and Useful Information... The encyclopedia was written in 1889 and gives a fascinating insight into the lives of the Victorian era." Though I was skeptical, it seems the encyclopedia was in fact a real publication. –  aedia λ Nov 8 '11 at 15:52
    
The comma at the end of the participial closing is no longer correct. –  MετάEd Nov 8 '11 at 15:58
    
This answer has a good closing. –  tchrist Aug 31 '12 at 19:01

This ending evolved as a mannered construction in a mannered age, generally used with extreme politesse but particularly useful when grovelling was in order. It could also drip with irony which was very useful at a time or in circumstances when diplomatic or social niceties didn't allow for frank speech. I've always found it to be a delightful turn of phrase but one which now must be used very advisedly, generally in a light or humorous context.

In appreciation of your enlightening comments, I remain...

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