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I've been taught to write "Yours" ever since I started writing letters. But today I realised that "your" is an adjective qualifying the person who is writing the letter. Now, since the adjective for you is your, why is yours always used?

  • Yours faithfully is not the only place where yours is used. yours (yo͝orz, yôrz, yōrz) pron. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) 1. Used to indicate the one or ones belonging to you: The larger boots are yours. If I can't find my book, I'll take yours. 2. Used often with an adverbial modifier in the complimentary close of a letter: Sincerely yours. thefreedictionary.com/yours See also: thefreedictionary.com/hers etc. – Kris Apr 26 '14 at 12:45
  • Please also visit English Language Learners – Kris Apr 26 '14 at 12:45
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If the valediction ends with a noun, then the s is omitted, as in:

Your obedient and humble servant,
Your friend,

If the phrase uses an adverb, then yours is used:

Yours truly,
Sincerely yours,
Yours forever,

There's nothing tricky about this; just think about how you'd say the full sentence, if it began with
“I am...”

I am your closest ally.
I am truly yours.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, many letters ended with the full sentence. More here.

  • I think the question is Why, not what. – Kris Apr 26 '14 at 12:41
  • Kris: I think the reason why is because that's how it fits in the sentence. I wouldn't say, "I am your truly," hence the "s". – J.R. Apr 26 '14 at 15:04
  • By the way, there's a Q or two related to "the reason(1) why(2) is because(3) " on ELU :) – Kris Apr 28 '14 at 6:40
  • @Kris - I thought most ELU visitors (seeing that this is a site for serious English language enthusiasts), wouldn't need to have an answer that specifies, "The reason why is because..." Something like, "There's nothing tricky about this:" could be used, and the because could be inferred. (I might have used the more explicit "The reason why is because..." on ELL, though.) – J.R. Apr 28 '14 at 8:17
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It's an inversion of I am faithfully yours

This is your cup = it is yours

I am your faithful [servant](various traditional terms could apply) = I am faithfully yours

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It is just standard usage. Alternatives are "Yours sincerely" or "Sincerely yours" or "Yours truly".

Without the s something like:

"Your faithful admirer"

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