32

Such utterances are known as phatic. In the OED's definition, they 'serve to establish or maintain social relationships rather than to impart information, communicate ideas.' Exchanges about the weather, such as you describe, can made without a greeting such as 'Hello' or 'Good morning' and often occur between strangers.


32

Dear Sir or Madam (some write it Dear Sir/Madam) would be an appropriate salutation when you are writing to an institution and you don't have a name. It is in common use, at least in the UK and the EU, and is considered polite and professional. "Sir or Madam is a respectful way to address the person when you don't know their gender - that is, when you don't ...


17

Such statements are usually considered conversation starters/openers: A conversation opener is an introduction used to begin a conversation. They are frequently the subject of guides and seminars on how to make friends and/or meet people. Different situations may call for different openers (e.g. approaching a stranger on the street versus meeting them at a ...


13

Whom and whomever are the pronouns used as direct objects (of the preposition). Who and whoever are predicate nominatives. When it comes after to, it will always be a form of whom. Whoever is technically a subject word (like he or I), but whom would be the object (like him or me). Therefore, after the word to you would need to use the object word....


11

In one of Terry Pratchett's children's books, a computer that - unlike the nomes[sic] that are the main characters - understand human speech, explains that a conversation it overheard consisted of "I am still alive. Are you still alive?" "Yes, I am still alive". This seems foolish to the nomes until they realise that most of their ...


11

There is no implication of marital status in your first example. It's just a more compact way to say the same thing. I could question whether two fruits could legally be married in the first place, but that would probably lead to downvotes.


8

"Goodbye" is derived from God be with you, as are many valedictions. "Take care" is sort of threadbare. "Farewell" seems antiquated. "Bon Voyage" is great if you're French. Be well, good fortune, until we meet again I do like the Vulcan Valediction, live long and prosper. Namaste is very respectful. It is spiritual, however; it can be interpreted (roughly)...


8

Unlike the well-established norms of traditional epistolary correspondence, there is no single standard way to write an e-mail regardless of the level of familiarity or distance, formality or informality intended, in the English-speaking world. An e-mail chain can be an asynchronous exchange of long form prose, as with a traditional letter or memorandum; in ...


7

When the addressee is in the same field as the writer, you can use the address Dear Colleague.


7

Dear Sir may have been an acceptable gender-neutral salutation some time ago, but I would suggest 'To whom it may concern,' as a more modern and suitable alternative :)


7

This supports @tchrist's analysis, but I thought I'd share the source material with you. Here is a fairly straightforward explanation of the punctuation of the word "brother" used in religious communication from an online religion style book... brother: A man who has taken vows in a Christian religious, particularly Catholic or Anglican, order but is ...


7

"Greetings", by definition, should only be at the beginning of a letter. "Wishes", on the other hand, can go at the end :-) Something I write often is "best wishes from [wherever I'm currently at, if I'm on vacation]" - and such a structure is definitely appropriate at the end of a letter. That said, Jon is also correct that sometimes mentioning where you ...


7

In my view, the simplest and most elegant solution is to start off simply with Dear ladies and gentlemen, having made sure to include the names of all the recipients in the postal address block pertaining to the addressees (if you are sending everyone a paper copy of the letter), so that all of them are able to see who else is covered by your salutation. ...


6

If you are using brother as a form of address, just as you might write Doctor Jones or President Obama or Deacon Williams, then yes, you would capitalize Brother John there. Compare all these: Dear Mister Davies, Dear Doctor Johns, Dear President Obama, Dear Deacon Williams, Dear Lady Jessica, Dear Pastor Johnson, Dear Brother Jaques, Dear Secretary Bird, ...


6

In English, "Dear Sir or Madam" is the traditional and customary order. It does sound quaint (and sexist to some) — but's that's how it is. You would indeed be thought "outlandish" (a good choice of term there) if you were to reverse that order.


6

Most of the emails I receive do not use Dear, although as noted in my comment all letters that I received do use Dear. emails tend to start with 'Jeremy' if they are from people who email me frequently, and with 'Dear Jeremy' or 'Dear [family name]' if they do not. I think that the absence of Dear in emails is comparable to the language used in pre-email ...


5

Greedily promoting from comment: The traditional salutation in this case isDear Sir or Madam:


5

Using the form "Sir [insert name]" implies that the person has been Knighted (or, in some countries, possibly other positions, not sure). This applies even in the United States. Bill Gates has not been Knighted, so you should not use it in this form to address him. Doing so would be an interesting faux pas. If you wish to formally address someone, you ...


5

I don't see anything wrong with, “I'm up here and I don't know why.” It sounds natural; it would catch my attention. (I imagine the next part of the speech would explain why, to some extent or another.) Just my two cents: Strive to speak from your heart, rather than seeking words of eloquence. The speech will be easier to deliver, and more enjoyable to hear....


4

The proper way to begin a formal letter to someone whose gender is unknown is with the "Dear Sir/Madam," phrase while At the end the letter use the phrase "Yours faithfully," plus your full name, like the template that follows: Dear Sir/Madam, .... Yours faithfully, Your full name


4

Most letters I have read follow the form: Dear Max, We just saw [yada, yada, letter] If you wanted to use a lowercase letter for the first sentence you type exactly what you have in your second example: Dear Max, we just saw [yada, yada, letter] The important difference is that you would not include the blank line. The following would be incorrect: Dear ...


4

The standard form, which has been in use in Britain all my life (that is since the 1940s) and probably long before that is: Dear Sir or Madam, This pre-dates modern feminism and is considered courteous and correct. I use it in both letters and, nowadays, emails.


4

For posterity, here is the bounty message I wrote to get more attention to this question: "As a parent and taxpayer, I would like to address a formal letter (starting with "Dear") to nine members of my local Board of Education. This is an elected body and has a mix of genders. I don't want to have to write out all nine names. I am hopeful my situation is ...


4

It doesn't imply their marital status at all. No more so than Messrs. Jones and Wilson implies that they are in a homosexual union. I would use the term Drs. X and Y. But, there are certainly situations where you will need to address a married couple of doctors. My wife and I experience this all of the time. She hasn't taken my last name, and we're both ...


4

No "Sir Full Name" is only used when the person is a knight. Use either "Dear Full Name" or "Dear Mr Lastname" (or "Dr Lastname etc."), or "Dear Sir" (without a name). "Sir" only applies to men. "Madam" is the female equivalent, "Dear Sir/Madam" if you don't know which to use.


3

There are many expressions of felicitations, to wish happiness, congratulations, longevity, success, or encouragement, that can be found in common use and that don't invoke a religious sentiment. I found this link, which seems to illustrate quite a few, some of which I quote here: May you see your children's children. May you be poor in misfortunes and rich ...


3

I'll just add that, if you know the actual job title of the person, you can also use that. For example, "Dear Human Resources Specialist:" For what it's worth, About.com has a survey that suggests that if you don't know at all, "Dear Hiring Manager:" appears to be the most preferred.


3

In 2015, ODO added Mx (pronounced like "mix") as a gender-neutral pronoun. See definition 2 for Mx on ODO Pronunciation: /məks/ /mɪks/ NOUN A title used before a person’s surname or full name by those who wish to avoid specifying their gender or by those who prefer not to identify themselves as male or female "To me, Mx Bond embodies the ...


3

If you don't know a person's name or gender, avoid "To whom it may concern." Instead, use the job title or a generic greeting: Dear Recruiter: Dear Claims Adjustor: Dear Sir or Madam:


3

When writing a formal email without knowing the name of the receiver, I would tend to fall back on standard letter writing style, especially for job applications and the like: Dear Sir/Madam, Or if the email doesn't need such an air of formality (for less important things), I'd write a simple: Hello, Or perhaps: Hello [company name],


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