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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?

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    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, 2014 at 12:45
  • Please also visit English Language Learners
    – Kris
    Apr 26, 2014 at 12:45

4 Answers 4

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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.

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    I think the question is Why, not what.
    – Kris
    Apr 26, 2014 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, 2014 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, 2014 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, 2014 at 8:17
  • @J.R. Yes. An earlier ending was "I beg to remain your humble and obedient servant...". This may have been shortened to "I beg to remain yours faithfully...", and then just to "Yours faithfully..." - before the "yours sincerelys" and "yours trulys" came along. The last is North American only.
    – WS2
    Apr 4, 2020 at 15:37
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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

1

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

Without the s something like:

"Your faithful admirer"

-2

I could understand what your doubt is here. 'Your faithfully applicant' is right if you would like to put here YOUR as a possessive adjective. "Yours faithfully" is an adverbial phrase. It is not a sentence, just a salutation from an applicant. The expansion of this phrase is "I am yours, being here faithfully" It's standardised phrase. like "I am afraid".

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    'Your faithfully applicant' doesn't sound right to me. 'Your faithful applicant' is slightly better but still sounds a little off. Apr 4, 2020 at 13:03
  • 'Your faithfully' won't work because 'your' is a possessive adj. Yours is possessive pronoun which fits here. 2) Yours faithfully can also be Faithfully, yours! (Faithfully yours), which kind of an inversion won't mean in case of 'your faithfully,' or 'faithfully your'.
    – Ram Pillai
    Apr 4, 2020 at 16:29

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