In case I send John Smith an email and he sends me a response, should I include "Hi John," when I am replying to his email?

  • It probably doesn’t matter so long as you are consistent. – Global Charm Mar 2 '19 at 18:57
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    This question has more to do with e-mail etiquette than English language and usage. (Note that the very same question can be asked about e-mail communication in languages other than English.) – jsw29 Mar 3 '19 at 0:30
  • This is a duplicate of Greetings after initial email, which is itself closed as primarily opinion-based. – jsw29 Mar 3 '19 at 17:07

I always do. This is a matter of personal preference. Some people view e-mails as electronic letters, whereas others view them as text messages. I belong to the former group, so I always include a greeting like "Hi John," or "Hello John," or even "Dear John," if it's a formal e-mail. I also always include something like "Best regards," or "Sincerely," at the end of the message before signing my name. I'm slightly turned off by e-mails that start without a greeting. Others don't care one way or the other.

A lot of business e-mails these days will just begin with the name of the person being addressed; e.g., "John:". I personally find this a bit brusque, but it's widespread.

Bottom line: whether you include a greeting is a matter of personal preference, and it's perfectly acceptable to use the same greeting in subsequent e-mails.

  • This answer leaves an impression that there are two groups of people: (1) those who prefer that the greetings be repeated every time, and (2) those who don't care either way. There are, however, also (3) those who are annoyed by the repetition of greetings in subsequent messages of an e-mail exchange, because they feel that it gets in the way of efficient communication (particularly when the messages are otherwise short). – jsw29 Mar 3 '19 at 0:28

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Meaning, watch how others are using or omitting greetings in email, and tune your style to theirs.

Also, take into account the tone and context. Is this a friendly exchange? Academic? Business? In business, emails among colleagues and equals, who don't have anything to prove to each other (such as "I am not a threat to you"), one can often be more terse without causing offense.

In practice, what often happens is that when there is some quick back and forth on a particular topic, the greeting often gets dropped after approximately two messages from each party, but the one-word signature often remains; but this also gets dropped after another couple of rounds of back-and-forth.

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