In a letter of any sort, why do most people capitalize the first word after the comma that follows the name of the addressee? I was taught (at Cambridge, England) not to do so! For example:

Dear Mr. Black, in relation to our stated plan to.... etc.

was the way I was taught.

Dear Mr. Black, In relation to our stated plan to... etc.

is incorrect, is it not?


1 Answer 1


If it's in a formal letter, the format is usually as follows:

Dear Mr. Smith,

In relation to our stated plan…

The dear is merely a salutation, not a sentence. In relation starts an actual sentence because it's in the body of the letter, so it needs to be capitalized.

  • 2
    That is certainly the writing convention, though I agree with the OP that it is illogical.
    – WS2
    Nov 17, 2014 at 10:16
  • @WS2 for me it depends on whether there's a paragraph break. No break: lower case. Paragraph break: upper case. Nov 17, 2014 at 12:41
  • @curiousdannii yes, which only makes it more illogical. Just try ending a paragraph with a comma in any other context.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 17, 2014 at 14:41
  • @RegDwigнt If you were looking for logic then language isn't the field for you :P Nov 17, 2014 at 14:45
  • @Reg Sure. Before a blockquote that's part of a sentence, you split up the paragraph and can end with a comma just fine. The capitalisation is a result of starting a visual paragraph (a block element of text); the notional paragraph (the sentences that make up a semantically distinct group) is not ended with the comma at all—it just spans several visual paragraphs, just like when you have a blockquote inside a sentence/paragraph. Nov 17, 2014 at 19:58

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