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I have read online that "Yours sincerely" is British English and "Sincerely yours" is American English.

Is this true?

Or is the difference in formality? I think the first one is more formal and the second one should be used with people you know more (for example colleagues from the same company who know each, but are not friends outside of work).

  • No, not true. It means the same. There are a lot of misconceptions about what is BE and AE. There is no difference in formality at all. Nowadays, though, just sincerely is used.....usually. Colleagues who know each other do not write sincerely to each other. It's for people you do not know at all and formal situations (letters from lawyers or letters to an official). – Lambie Jan 30 '16 at 23:29
  • I endorse Lambie's comment. But with regard to formality and writing to a company, for example, the opening in BE is likely to be "Dear Sirs" or "Dear Sir or Madam" which should then be signed off as "Yours faithfully", not "Yours sincerely". If you then discover the name of the corporate person you are dealing with then it is considered appropriate to switch to a formal opening of "Dear Mr. Jones"and sign off with "Yours sincerely". This is BE. I don't think "Yours faithfully" was ever in use in corporate correspondence in AE. – Peter Point Aug 21 '16 at 22:22
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I would agree with your findings, although they both seem to go out of fashion in the US.

Have a look at WikiPedia.

British English:

American English:

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