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So in German when you write a letter, you start the body with a minuscule letter because the salutation is seen as an interjection, I presume:

Dear Max,

We just saw [yada, yada, letter]


Dear Max, we just saw [yada, yada, letter]

So, my question is: is it OK to start a letter in English with a lowercase letter, or is that bad style/mechanics/etc? If it's not acceptable, what is the salutation considered as and why do we separate it with a comma if it's not part of the first sentence.

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    Generally letters begin with a complete sentence, starting with a capital letter as usual. German rules for spelling and capitalization are completely different from English rules. Jan 3, 2014 at 18:14
  • First, in formal letters you are supposed to use a colon with "Dear Max:". A comma is considered informal and I wouldn't be surprised if it was a more recent innovation than the colon. Following colons with capital letters is permitted if the colon applies to more than one sentence, so with a colon the salutation actually makes grammatical sense. Jan 3, 2014 at 18:17
  • Capital letters following colons are permitted. Match your subjects and objects, @PeterShor (:
    – DopeGhoti
    Jan 3, 2014 at 18:19
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    @DopeGhoti: The subject of that sentence is "following", which is singular. I admit I make lots of mistakes, but this isn't one of them. Jan 3, 2014 at 18:20
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    Just start all your correspondence with 'I' and then you never need to rememeber ;)
    – philshem
    Feb 22, 2014 at 4:51

1 Answer 1

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Most letters I have read follow the form:

Dear Max,

We just saw [yada, yada, letter]

If you wanted to use a lowercase letter for the first sentence you type exactly what you have in your second example:

Dear Max, we just saw [yada, yada, letter]

The important difference is that you would not include the blank line. The following would be incorrect:

Dear Max,

we just saw [yada, yada, letter]

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  • blank line --> new line
    – philshem
    Feb 22, 2014 at 4:48

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