In British English, it is common to use "Yours Sincerely", but in American English, "Sincerely".

In valediction, the meaning is not the key, but what is common in a writing style. What about using "Yours", is it odd?

5 Answers 5


I was taught to use "Sincerely Yours" and "Very Truly Yours", which I always thought was too intimate-sounding for business but it was de rigueur back in the 1960s and 1970s. I have seen "Yours" used more and more in recent times and seems quite ordinary and acceptable to my Midwest US, middle-aged eyes and sensibilities. :-)


I don't believe that it's odd, no. It may sound foreign to American ears, but, for the British, this type of succinctness is very common.


To end a letter with "Yours," is acceptable in some situations, less so in others. Much depends to whom you are writing and the purpose of your writing.

Generally speaking (British use), a letter ends with "Yours sincerely," if the receiver is known, i.e. it is addressed to him or her by name. This is the most common way of closing a letter formally.

If the receiver is unknown; i.e. "To whom it may concern," or "Dear Sir or Madam," then the convention is to end the letter with: "Yours faithfully,"

In less formal letters it is the custom to sign off with: "Best regards" or with the more impersonal, "Regards".

In more informal contexts where both the sender and the receiver have built a working rapport or even a friendship, then "Yours," is perhaps the safest option.

I am unsure if the same conventions applies to the USA, my gut response is to say; very nearly it is. Here is a wikiHow page: How to end a letter, which is definitely aimed at an American audience, and a BBC Writing Emails grammar writing guide which includes both British and American customs.

  • You do not have to be a practising christian to use faithfully?
    – mplungjan
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:12
  • @mplungjan I'm not sure if that's a joke or if you're serious.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:20
  • I had a look at the etymology - so ok never mind :)
    – mplungjan
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:27
  • 1
    @mplungjan Surely, being faithful to (for example) your partner, doesn't require you to be a practising christian?
    – TrevorD
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:36
  • 2
    Actually, I think that I recall seeing that used as "Your Faithful Servent" which was a flowery way to be gracious and ingratiating in written correspondence. Jun 27, 2013 at 18:09

"Yours Sincerely" does sound slightly odd to my American ears, but I suppose I would not find it completely off if I saw it in a letter.

On the other hand, I've seen the word "Yours" included in several other forms of valediction:

  • "Yours Truly," amongst beloveds
  • "Yours in Scouting," amongst volunteer Scout leaders
  • "Yours in Brotherhood," amongst members of certain Fraternal organizations

And sometimes, just simply:

  • "Yours,"

Gentlemen, a poster above has replied, in my opinion, most helpfully as to the original query in his/her explanation of the difference between 'Yours sincerely' and 'Yours faithfully'. However if anyone is (still!) interested in the origin of this seemingly archaic valediction I would like to direct you to my reply made here: Meaning of the valediction "Yours, &c.". I apologize for some irrelevance as I was discussing a similar question.

"I am not particularly well-versed in this subject, but I do think I should chance an answer here.

The 'et cetera' or '&c' part of the valediction 'Yours &c' is a contraction for a common valedictory statement used during earlier eras of English, as stated before, when relationships between the sender and recipient were more clearly defined--the contraction being of the formal

"I remain, sir, your most loyal and faithful servant"

Used, perhaps, even in correspondence between peers as a respectable gesture of putting oneself in the service of one's correspondent.

But how did we come to 'Yours, etc' from here?

You'll notice that the form used above is 'YourS' and not 'Your', which is used in the expanded valediction.

This is because the 's' is contraction for 'servant' and as such 'Yours etc.' meant 'Your servant, etc (most humble, loyal, faithful, sincere. . . .)' and thus even the more common 'Yours faithfully' and 'Yours sincerely' used today meant 'I remain, sir, your most faithful servant' and 'I remain, sir, your most sincere servant'--the former of which is used when the sender does not know the recipient in person.

And thus more archiac version of 'Yours, &c' would be 'I remain, &c' which you will still find appended to some letters today.

Hope this is satisfactory."

  • No, this is not true. It is not a “contraction”. Even if “Yours” actually did mean “I am your servant”, it would not be a contraction. Also, please do not duplicate answers.
    – tchrist
    Dec 5, 2014 at 18:31

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