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Let's say that somebody from a partner firm with whom I've never spoken before starts an email to me with "Dear Mr. Rossi,".

When a reply to her, I think I will then have to start with "Dear Ms. Her-Surname," to not sound disrepectful. But I would like to make this email conversation less formal next time.

Is there any better alternative to the sentence below?

Dear Ms. Her-Surname,

First of all, feel free to call me Ivo. Regarding your...

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  • 4
    Your suggestion looks good to me!
    – psmears
    Feb 18, 2011 at 15:52
  • "My name is Mister Surname!" :)
    – zetetic
    Feb 18, 2011 at 21:08

4 Answers 4

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Dear Ms. Her-Surname,

First of all, feel free to call me Ivo. Regarding your...

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  • Apparently my own suggestion is good (see comments to my question above). But if you have other suggestions, please post them.
    – Ivo Rossi
    Feb 18, 2011 at 16:08
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    I think your approach is a good one. An alternative is to be less direct (but risk not getting your message across) by signing off using your first name only: "Regards, Ivo". When I see this I interpret it as an invitation to use first names. Feb 18, 2011 at 22:22
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    @Alex: Your approach is the one I would use (and always try to be sensitive to). Unfortunately, many people are almost completely oblivious.
    – Marcin
    May 1, 2011 at 10:05
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    @Marcin: I don't know whether people are oblivious, or just not entirely sure whether it's really an invitation. One possibility is to try the subtle approach at first, and if that doesn't work issue a direct invitation. Jun 17, 2011 at 16:34
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I think that might be about as good as you can get in English. In some other languages, there are words for that, e.g. in Spanish, the verb "tutear" has roughly this meaning (spanishdict.com translates it as "to treat with familiarity"), which invites a degree of informality, and probably implies that the speaker wants the listener(s) to call him or her by a given name or nickname. English doesn't have different conjugations for the formal and informal second person, so it makes sense that there isn't one word for this.

If I were writing this, I would write it either exactly as you did "feel free to call me...", or possibly "please call me..." if I strongly prefer to be called by something. I think there is rarely a social stigma in American English to one person inviting the other to use an informal address—and the cases in which there might be, it's the kind of thing you usually know when you see it, such as talking with the president, prime minister, head of a company, etc.

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    Well, we have an informal second person... we just don't use it anymore. Thou art, thou hast, thou comest and goest, thou eatest and runnest.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 17, 2011 at 6:51
  • You're right. When you don't use them every day, it's easy to forget about "thou" and "thee".
    – Andy
    Jun 21, 2011 at 15:15
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    It's probably fair to consider "Thou" to be a super-formal usage now, rather than an informal second person, since the only instance a modern speaker would be familiar with is from divine command in that Charleton Heston movie.
    – DougM
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:12
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I received two phone calls recently from two non-native speakers, one from Poland and one from Pakistan.

I wrote to them “Please call me Dick”, so they called me — on the phone.

A non-native speaker myself, I have now switched to “Please call me by my first name.”

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  • That’a ok, presuming they know what your first name is, Richard. Er, Rich. Er, Dick. See the problem?
    – tchrist
    Sep 29, 2014 at 11:42
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Please skip the "feel free" - always. (What, exactly, is one "feeling"? And, the situation is business-to-business. Stay formal. I do not understand the near-phobia of respectful formality. And why would anyone want to become informal so quickly? Do you believe that, doing so, will give you some kind of "in" with the person? They "care" more about what you are saying, and/or who you are? No. They don't.

Why give the idea that the most important thing in the world is that you call each other by your first names. This is business.

In ALL situations, including public schools, (and to students), the formal address is the high and better choice.

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  • In answer to your question "What exactly is one 'feeling' [when one 'feels free']?" the probable answer is "unconstrained." If my understanding on this point is correct, "please feel free to do X" is logically interchangeable with "please don't feel that you under any obligation not to do X"—an expression whose meaning I find both straightforward and reasonable. Of course, expressions don't have to be meaningless to win a place among a person's pet peeves.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 25, 2018 at 7:52
  • "Feel free," sounds as though the individual saying it a) Isn't telling you what you needed to know, and b) does not care, and c) who needed your permission. "Call me anytime." (If you mean it).
    – J. Doe
    Mar 26, 2019 at 18:27

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