'Yours sincerely' or 'Yours faithfully'? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 4 May 2024)

Part 4

'Yours sincerely' or 'Yours faithfully': Which One Is Correct?

Yours sincerely and Yours faithfully are formal complimentary closes used in British English.

Yours sincerely is typically used when the recipient is addressed by name (e.g., Dear Mr Lau) and is known to the sender to some degree, whereas Yours faithfully is used when the recipient is not known by name (e.g., Dear Sir/Madam).

The entry for Yours sincerely in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

The entry for Yours faithfully in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Source: Oxford Handbook of Commercial Correspondence

Source: Oxford Handbook of Commercial Correspondence

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Also by Spencer Lam

Part 1: Should We Say 'A Tiger', 'The Tiger', or 'Tigers'?
Part 2: 'Relax' or 'Relax Oneself'?
Part 3: 'Exchange Program' or 'Exchanging Program'?
Part 5: Should We Say 'Take Bus', 'Take the Bus', or 'Take a Bus'?
Part 6: 'I Afraid' or 'I Am Afraid'?
Part 7: 'Date Someone' or 'Date with Someone'?
Part 8: A Missing Relative Pronoun
Part 9: Are 'Basketball', 'Football', and 'Badminton' Countable or Uncountable?
Part 10: 'Every Time' or 'Every Time When'?
Part 11: Should 'Mum' Be Capitalised? (Read this blog post for a more in-depth discussion of the topic.)
Part 12: 'Grammar' or 'Grammer'?

Other Real-World Examples of Misuse

1. The definite article is needed. We say 'something is the same as something else'.
2. I have suggested a possible rewording here. The original tone was direct so it is clear that the writer was unhappy with the reply he received. However, 'Could you just ...' and 'answer my question directly' sound a little rude. I have therefore amended the text to make it sound more formal but still direct and to the point.
3. 'Yours sincerely' should be used here as the recipient of the letter has been identified (Professor Mathieson).

'Yours faithfully' is used when the recipient is not addressed by name.
(Image Source: HKDSE Exam Series, English Language: Mock Exam Papers)

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