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I'd like to know whether it is okay to start a letter like this:

Dear Bob,

Hi, Bob...

I've been doing this but not sure it is totally acceptable. Isn't "Hi, Bob" somewhat redundant as there is already "Dear Bob"? Sure, there are many ways to start a letter but what I'd like to know is if it is appropriate.

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    Is this an actual paper letter for the postal service, or an email? Emails can be much less formal, including even omitting the greeting in some cases. – Jeremy Nottingham Mar 20 '17 at 2:39
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I agree with you: "Dear Bob" followed by "Hi, Bob" is redundant. Avoid that as best you can. The best way to start a letter or email really depends on how close you are to the recipient. For instance, if I worked at Microsoft and was emailing the CEO of Apple, I would begin with "Dear Mr. Cook" or simply "Mr. Cook". If I was emailing my own boss, I might start it with "Hi, Mrs. Mallard" or something else similarly colloquial.

Long story short, do one or the other, but not both at the same time. Hope this helps!

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    "Hi, Mrs. Mallard" sounds strange as it mixes the formal "Mrs" and the informal "Hi" – Martin Smith Mar 20 '17 at 8:33
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    At least where I'm from in the US, it's common to address people as "Mr." or "Mrs." even when they're familiar. For example, I'll address my friend's mom as "Mrs. Smith" for the rest of my life, even if I'm 30 and she's 70. I would never call her by her first name. But I've known her for 20 years so I'd be comfortable saying "Hi" in a letter. – Chris Bouchard Mar 20 '17 at 16:36
  • @ChrisBouchard True enough but I think very few people call their bosses by their last name these days. – Casey Mar 21 '17 at 15:42
  • @Casey Very true. Most workplaces are on a first name basis these days. Better for corporate culture. – Chris Bouchard Mar 21 '17 at 16:38
19

"Dear Bob" is just letter-writing language for "Hi, Bob" so including both of them is redundant. If you're writing a formal letter, saying "Dear Bob" has already said hello, so you don't need to do it again. If you're writing informally, you might prefer to write "Hi, Bob!" instead of "Dear Bob".

2

"Dear Bob" is a greeting. It's a standard part of a letter, but it does not necessarily require the word "dear". In fact, "Hi, Bob" would itself be a perfectly acceptable greeting, provided that the letter is intended to be informal and friendly (and that you're on informal and friendly terms with Bob).

So do not use both, but remember that it's perfectly acceptable to use "Hi" instead of "Dear".

1

Using the name twice is redundant. I would suggest:

Dear Bob,

Hi, this is soandso.

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    "Dear Bob, Hi ..." just doesn't sound right to me. – Mawg Mar 20 '17 at 9:12
  • Greeting twice is redundant, and you've introduced a comma splice. Double bad. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 20 '17 at 19:01
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If it is an email, you address the person as you would in person. Their email goes directly to them in most cases. If it goes to the department first, slightly more formality may be warranted.

If it is a business letter, the name, title, department, company name and address will be above the greeting. So will yours be if you are writing on Company letterhead. Once all those titles and addresses are on the letter, you politely address them as you would in a business meeting. Even if you are writing your good friend in her capacity as your bank manager and you need her for a business reason, you would not say "Hi Mary", your would address her as Ms/Miss/Mrs. Smith or Mary Smith. You could, in an ongoing business relationship use, "Dear Mary,". In the body of the letter, you might speak to her directly. "Thanks for your help, Mary."

1

"Dear Mr. Jones" is a formal opening, so people sometimes begin the body with "Hi" to transition to a friendlier tone. "Dear Bob" is informal, so "Hi" would stand out as redundant.

However, it would never seem appropriate to repeat the person's name in the first two phrases.

Salespeople are (or were) trained to make frequent use of the person's name on the theory that it established some form of rapport. However, the practice triggers people's "salesperson radar" because it usually seems uncommon and unnatural in normal speech. So repeating the person's name in the opening of a letter would tend to be off-putting, the opposite of what you want.

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Maybe, just maybe, if the "Dear" part is so long or formal or must follow a particular format that it actually ends up as its own section of the letter:

If you must format your letter to open with a very formal salutation, in order to meet guidelines from your workplace/university/organisation, for example:

"Dear Sir Henry Guffington the third, Duke of Australiama, Order of the golden Kangaroo, PhD, GSSE,Golden swimming certificate, Silver swimming certificate",

But you are actually quite close to the person I could possibly imagine following that up with:

"Hi Henry, how are you going?".

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