Dear ???

Yuh   Monday, June 28, 2004, 02:06 GMT
When replying to a business inquiry, if we don't know wether the person is male or female (but know the name), we can't use Mr. and Mrs. How can we start the e-mail? Just the family name after "Dear" is OK??
mjd   Monday, June 28, 2004, 02:11 GMT
"Dear Sir or Madam" would be the best way to go.
Damian   Monday, June 28, 2004, 08:11 GMT

I was told by an American girl at uni that American women don't like being addressed as "madam" has different connotations over there. I read a book called "84 Charing Cross Road" about communication by mail over many years between a woman in New York who collected old and rare books and a firm of booksellers in London. The first letter she received from England opened with "Dear Madam". In her reply she said: "I hope Madam doesn't mean over there what it means here".
Mi5 Mick   Monday, June 28, 2004, 08:21 GMT
In the US South they seem to use ma'am a lot.
mjd   Monday, June 28, 2004, 08:25 GMT

Yeah, this issue has been brought up before. It's possible that some women would feel old if someone were to address them as "madam." However, I disagree with what that girl told you. It's not a title that is often sounds very formal, but it certainly isn't impolite. "Dear Sir or Madam" is used in the business world, where formality in letters and documents is commonplace.
mjd   Monday, June 28, 2004, 08:26 GMT
"Ma'am" is commonly used as a courtesy, especially in formal situations, throughout the U.S.
Steve   Monday, June 28, 2004, 16:54 GMT
Although I have never used it myself, I was taught in school (in the US) that formal business letters should start with "To whom it may concern."

Hehe I was also told that a formal business letter should end with "Yours truly" even though, at least to my ears, that sounds much too informal.
mjd   Monday, June 28, 2004, 17:22 GMT
"To whom it may concern" is fine too.
Damian   Monday, June 28, 2004, 17:23 GMT
With formal stuff, like business or official letters I think in the UK here it should be:

Dear Sir/Madam, then ending with "yours faithfully". I don't think we use "truly" here so maybe it's American.

For informal letters, addressed to whoever ...friends etc.. eg Dear Mary...they would end "Yours sincerely". If you write (but WHO the hell writes letters now anyway with email and texting?) to close mates/ can put anything you like who cares? LOL

Textpeak is a different language altogether and universal. I rd in papr tht 1 grl wrote exm ppr al in txtspk...& pssd
Ed   Tuesday, June 29, 2004, 00:49 GMT
i know the word madamE with an "e" means a woman who runs a whorehouse, so maybe thats what she meant.