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While chatting on a WhatsApp group or any other social media group some people address the group members as Sirs and Madams.

For example:

Sirs and Madams, I'm grateful to you for your wishes

Is the usage correct?

Please update me: What is the suitable expression in such a situation?

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  • grateful for your wishes is not idiomatic in English.
    – Lambie
    Oct 29, 2018 at 14:06

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Certainly in British English, addressing individuals as sir or madam these days tends to be reserved for extremely formal situations. Letter-writing is still considered to be formal. I find it unusual that WhatsApp communication could be that formal, but you haven't really given any detail about what the nature of your business is.

I have not personally heard anyone ever say "sirs and madams" in English. When making an announcement it is more common to use "Ladies and Gentlemen". This is what you would expect to hear if someone addressed a mixed crowd in, for example, an announcement at a theatre.

In written correspondence to a group of people, you can begin "Dear Sirs / Madams" if you are addressing them as a group. A 2016 study by a London law firm found that 81 law firms and banks exclusively used “Dear Sirs” on letters and communications. In very formal correspondence though, only the singular "sir or madam" is used. Further, some also argue that "sir" alone is gender neutral in this situation and can be used for men and women.

If you are trying to emulate either of these situations in WhatsApp and show this formal level of respect then I think "Ladies and Gentlemen" or "Dear Sirs / Madams" would be preferable.

If though this is a less formal situation, not a business situation or similar, you could just refer to a group as "everyone" or "everybody". In fact, in informal settings, some people prefer terms that do not specify gender.

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  • In a job application, you use the singular: Dear Sir/Madam. Never the plurals. In fact, I can think of no contemporary situation where I would ever use the plural of sir or madam.
    – Lambie
    Oct 29, 2018 at 14:06
  • @Lambie "Dear Sirs" is appropriate if you know you are writing to more than one person. True, a job application would normally be to one person, such as a manager, but it could also be to a board of people and plural "sirs" would be appropriate. My paragraph makes it clear that this is "in written correspondence to a group of people"
    – Astralbee
    Oct 29, 2018 at 14:20
  • Many thanks for relevant responses. I will share now the fashion in which some of the whatsapp users address the group members.... Sirs and madams I'm grateful to you for your wishes.... Or.. Dear sirs and madams could you help me with the usage of participle and gerund ?? Oct 29, 2018 at 14:48
  • As these people sent you "wishes" it sounds like they know you. For that reason I think you should use either "Dear Sirs / Madams, I am grateful to you for your wishes"; or if you know them informally you could just say "I am grateful to everyone for your wishes".
    – Astralbee
    Oct 29, 2018 at 14:52
  • And these plurals are especially ridiculous on an app group. Even in writing to a group of people, workarounds are found.
    – Lambie
    Oct 29, 2018 at 15:00

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