In a letter we say "Dear Alexthecampbell," before starting the body. After this, we then captialize the first letter of the next sentence.

Since the salutation functions like a header, and isn't part of the next sentence, why is there a need for a comma at all, and how did this start?

Thanks in advance!

  • I meant to say "isn't part of the next sentence" – alexthecampbell Nov 20 at 22:33
  • ... Now you have. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 20 at 22:37
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    I don't know the history and so I wouldn't presume to answer, but I would think that the salutation was part of the first sentence and at some point a custom arose to off set that salutation. Grammatically we'd expect "Dear John" to be part of a longer sentence, like in, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" – Juhasz Nov 20 at 22:41
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    Note that the salutation likely was not originally placed on a separate line. – Hot Licks Nov 20 at 23:13
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    @Cascabel - I mean parchment was relatively precious at one time, and people would not have wasted it with needless "whitespace". – Hot Licks Nov 20 at 23:26

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