faithfully / sincerely

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.

faithfully / sincerely

Post by tee76 » Fri May 12, 2006 9:38 am

so, if you don't know the person's name who you are writing to you end the letter with yours faithfully and if you do know the name you end it with yours sincerely.... but, does anyone know what the reason for this is / where it originated from? look forward to hearing from you!
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri May 12, 2006 10:49 am

Please, whose rules are these?
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by Ed P » Fri May 12, 2006 12:44 pm

If you are an old fossil like me then it was drummed into you at school that it was faithfully always.

Sincerely is not an exact synonym and is weaker, its use says something about the user!

In the late 60s when I was 8 or 9 years old, how to write letters: it was put in very non pc terms "If your name is paddy O`paddy, occupation bricklayer and can barely read and write then you will sign letters yours sincerely, people won`t take serious offence, such misuse is to be expected from the uneducated, you have no such excuse now that you have been informed"

The old boy taught my mum too, and was from the generation of teachers carved from stone who spoke like old testament prophets and might start smiting given irritation, but never did and listened and explained patiently

we had a collins dictionary and a pea-green Fowlers usage, one of them had terms of address as an appendix "have a look, and see if you can find "Sincerely". He was right there was "Yours faithfully"and "yours" as a permitted contraction for informal letters. (after how to address a cardinal, the lord chancellor etc)

this sticks in my memory because the old boy had been teaching english for over 40 years and explained things very well, but his attitude was look up faithful, look up sincere, which is the stronger word? why? not just saying this is the way it is, and he made us think.

have a look at people you correspond with, and if you look at faithfully/vs sincerely, do you notice something? i certainly do and the old boy seems still to be right after all these years


Yours faithfully :-)
Ed
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by tee76 » Fri May 12, 2006 1:38 pm

dear ed,

thank you for your response. however, i am not questioning when you should use faithfully or sincerely. these days it is standard what you should use. i do not see that using sincerely means people are undereducated. what i would like to know is where does it originate from that you should use faithfully if you are writing dear sir or to whom it may concern and yours sincerely if you are writing dear mr smith or dear john.

yours sincerly

underedcuated person - not!
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by Ed P » Fri May 12, 2006 2:52 pm

Dear Tee, handbags at 20 paces!
hold on before we get too far with this,
I can only say honestly what i know and was taught. It was very non PC and outrageous by todays standards as I said, I was taught that sincerely was a gaffe that showed lack of education, I know things are less rigorous 40 years on and it is less of a sin, but most people I know are still careful enough to use faithfully, because they are old enough to understand what the use of sincerely indicates or may indicate if the viewer comes from a certain set.

You may use whichever form you wish. I am not the arbiter of your taste, but I have tried to make you aware that people educated at the same time as I was will have a set of prconceptions triggered by the use of sincerely.

As you will encounter many people like me for example as middle managers and Md`s when you seek a job be aware that your application may get junked in favour of someone who corectly says "yours faithfully" some people are that anal, and using the preferred form gives you the best chance.

I wasnt trying to be inflammatory, merely trying to make you aware of what it means in the real world, whether you see it that way or not.

You seem to be alluding to a rule set that doesn`t exist to my knowledge. I was taught that the only correct form was "yours faithfully" and thats the only rule i know, if you would care to enlighten me I will be happy to hear this.

what is this "standard" you refer to and where is it from?

It was told to me simply that yours faithfully is never wrong, yours sincerely can be inappropriate, to be safe always use yours faithfully, its been the standard usage for an awfully long time

Yours faithfully (aka your faithful servant):-)
Ed
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by Bobinwales » Fri May 12, 2006 5:40 pm

I was educated in the '60's as well, and the RULE was if you start the letter "Dear Sir", you ended it "Yours faithfully", "Dear Mr Rumplestiltskin" was ended "Yours sincerely". Forty years on it is still something I do, although "I refer to yours of the 6th ultimo" has thankfully gone into oblivion.
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Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

faithfully / sincerely

Post by Ed P » Fri May 12, 2006 9:04 pm

Dear Bob, If this is so I`m a bit surprised. I was taught as I have said, and every one of the semantic quibbles my old English teacher explored has stood the test of time and challenge so far.
My later copy of Fowler says it is now "more acceptable" to use yours sincerely in places where yours faithfully was formerly used,( ie all of them!) and makes the distinction of informality but not intimacy if you choose to use sincerely.

I was brought up that sincerely WAS unacceptable, and Fowler doesn`t dispute this, but it doesn`t say anything definitive either.
When I grew up this was emphasised as a tricky area, and that there was a lot of snobbery. If you chose to use sincerely in for example a job application then certain people would just throw out your application unseen.

An initial few searches between work today has left me unsatisfied, and a call to an old friend caused an explosion in support of my view that means i won`t tell him about this forum as you don`t need flaming and abuse ;-)

I`m quite happy to modify my opinion if I can find some facts to hang the change on, all I have is my memory, your assertion and a number of second order things that say things like "usage formerly deprecated" and other such insubstantials, nothing firm enough as proof either way.
If you know any sites or sources that can confirm this, then i will be happy. fowler has let us down.

At the moment I am chasing a fart in a wind tunnel.( sorry) Normally my recollections turn out to be very close, but there is always the first time and i`m not baking a pie made with pure humbles!
the journey is what matters, not the destination.
old dogs learn new tricks everyday, thats how they get old.

Bests
(informal, casual and friendly :-)

Ed
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by tee76 » Sat May 13, 2006 8:53 am

thank you bob, i knew that the 100s of people i have worked with over the years could not be wrong! in addition to this, i certainly have never had any trouble finding a job. now that we have that cleared up i still don't have an answer to my question, who decided when faithfully/sincerely should be used? i will continue my quest!
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by gdwdwrkr » Sat May 13, 2006 9:00 am

The answer is buried in Ed P's post: a snob.
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Post by kagriffy » Sun May 14, 2006 12:25 am

Perhaps those "rules" still rule in the UK, but State-side, the most widely used business closing is "Sincerely." Note I did NOT say "yours sincerely," just "sincerely." This has been the standard in the business world here for at least the last 25 years.
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Signature:
K. Allen Griffy
Springfield, Illinois (USA)

faithfully / sincerely

Post by tee76 » Sun May 14, 2006 8:51 am

ooh the plot thickens! so i wonder why we use the 'yours' in the uk..................
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by gdwdwrkr » Sun May 14, 2006 10:16 am

An old man taught me never to trust anyone who tells me he is honest. For me the trend is toward honesty, sincerity, and faithfulness, which usually preclude using the terms, especially in a business letter. "Thank you in advance for your response" is a sufficient sign-off. If the body of the letter does not convey sincerity and faithfulness, why should I appropriate the qualities at the end?
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by tee76 » Sun May 14, 2006 10:19 am

exactly! that's why i wondered where it comes from because when you think about it it's quite strange!
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Sun May 14, 2006 2:03 pm

gdwdwrkr's comments make sense (sadly in part). I used to query the sensibleness of the rule I was taught, as was Bob, in the sixties. I eventually rationalised that I shouldn't be unguarded when communicating with people I didn't even know the names of - sincerity perhaps implies a casting of one's pearls - though a certain amount of faith in their characters is necessary for ANY communication.
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faithfully / sincerely

Post by gdwdwrkr » Sun May 14, 2006 4:08 pm

Having been raised on Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post, I certainly value manners, and traditions which say to the other, "I recognise and respect you," and I acknowledge the fact that these differ from place to place. A child of the 50s-70s, I also question a lot of conventional non-sense.
I, for one, would not work for the snob who discarded my resume unread, because the closing broke his rule.......though its academic......he's saved me the bother!
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