As a teacher can I sign off a generic letter to the parents of my class 'Yours sincerely' if I have addressed them as 'Dear Parent'? Or should it be 'Yours faithfully'?

  • At one time it would have been "yours faithfully", but the latter has to all intents become obsolete. "Yours sincerely" is what I would use. – WS2 Feb 5 '19 at 20:33
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    I’d probably just use “Sincerely,” – Jim Feb 6 '19 at 5:16
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    I was always taught that it was 'Yours sincerely' if you addressed the recipient by name, but if you began 'Dear Sir' or similar, it was 'Yours faithfully'. – Kate Bunting Feb 6 '19 at 9:00
  • @KateBunting That certainly was the case Kate. But I almost never see "yours faithfully" used these days. – WS2 Feb 6 '19 at 9:16
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    @Jim "Sincerely" by itself is American. The fact that we are discussing "yours faithfully" suggests the OP is British. "Sincerely" on its own comes over as a bit faux-genuine here - a bit creepy. – WS2 Feb 6 '19 at 9:17

There used to be very strict rules relating the salutation in a letter to the sign-off. Very few people now remember what those rules were, and even fewer care.

It was once my job to be correct in choosing between "Yours ever" (which is by no means as intimate as it sounds) and "Yours aye", and on one occasion at least in choosing "I am, Sir, your obedient servant" in preference to " I remain, Sir, your obedient servant".

If the only thing that the recipients of your letter are concerned about is your sign-off then you have scored some kind of victory. I would guess that the most important thing is that the substance of what you say should be understood. Those who oppose it will find ways of criticising you however you sign off your letter.

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    Did you not use "I BEG to remain, Sir, your obedient servant..."? My daughter had a music teacher, as recently as the 1990s, who with her periodic bills, would send a note saying "I beg to remind you that fees are now due". Never forget to beg, if you seek preferment. – WS2 Feb 6 '19 at 9:26
  • The letter began: "I am commanded by the Lords Commissioners for Her Majesty's Treasury...". The Treasury never begs. – JeremyC Feb 6 '19 at 15:58
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    Well the Lords Commissioners are (civil) servants to the populace, after all! – WS2 Feb 6 '19 at 22:43
  • @WS2 Wherever did you get that idea? They are servants of the Crown. But when I signed such letters I was a servant of the Crown and also of their lordships: a mere servant of servants, hence the (mock )humility. Mock humility because such a letter could put someone out of business. The moral is do not pay attention to the formal beginnings and endings of letters: the important bit is what is said between. – JeremyC Mar 8 '19 at 22:28

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