I am really not sure about when it is appropriate to use someone's first name in business emails. If someone addresses me by my first name, but signs his email officially — full name, plus title, department and contact information —, should I address him by first name or still by "Mr. X"?

  • 4
    I don't see this as a language question. It is an etiquette question, pure and simple. For what it's worth, however, generally (not always) you choose how to address a person based on how you address that person in conversation. If you have never spoken in person, use the title and last name, unless your social position is clearly and definitively that of someone who would use the first name if you were having a conversation. Mar 6, 2013 at 1:11
  • A complicating factor is that the signature block on the email may be applied automatically in the same form to every message regardless of how the person might "prefer" the addressee to refer to him in reply.
    – Fortiter
    Mar 6, 2013 at 1:13
  • What @John said. It's just etiqette. I'd have thought for most people (Anglophones or not) the general principle is "do as you would be done by". So by implication, you copy the other's forms of address unless you've got some special reason not to adopt the "local (to him, at least) custom & practice". Mar 6, 2013 at 3:25
  • Related (possible dupe): english.stackexchange.com/q/53366/8019 Mar 6, 2013 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


I agree that you should address someone in email the same way you would in real life. Imagine if you saw this person at a party. Would you say, "Hey, Ted. Nice to see you," or "Good evening, Mr. Williams. It's nice to see you"?

  • You're batting over .400 with this answer, Jackson. .406, to be exact. ;) Mar 6, 2013 at 3:41

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