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We’re are a small atelier on Etsy and usually get questions from clients starting with Hi, Hi Roman (they sometimes see my name before composing a question) or Hey there.

What would be the safest way of starting a reply in these cases? Currently, I use “Hello, John!” but is it ok?

We don’t need very informal relationship in conversation with customer but still want to be natural, polite and helpful.

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    Although you might at first glance imagine otherwise, this is primarily a cultural question that’s unrelated to the English language. If you translated this question into your first (non-English) language, then would you automatically know the “right” answer? Why would English have a special way of handling this that works differently from however it works in your own language? – tchrist Jul 22 '18 at 21:02
  • Well, I certainly wouldn’t start with “Hello, dear” as your title might suggest… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 22 '18 at 22:42
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It sounds as though the response you're using is polite and the correct level of formality! It seems safe and okay.

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There are no rules but broadly, it's fine to respond with whatever form your respondent used… if he signs himself John, respond Dear/Hi/Hello John… if she uses Mrs Doe, respond to Mrs Doe. Where there's a doubt, fall back on the traditional standards for correspondence… which broadly give the same results, anyway. Such standards are very usefully explained in both Webster's Dictionary (huge desktop versions) and Debrett's Correct Form, among other sources.

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