1

Do the following structures mean the same in the beginning of an AmE formal letter:

  • With reference to your letter of 17 March, I am pleased to inform you...

  • Reference to your letter of 17 March, I am pleased to inform you...

  • Pursuant to your letter of 17 March, I am pleased to inform you...

  • Following your letter of 17 March, I am pleased to inform you...

OR

  • With reference to our previous discussions...

  • Reference to our previous discussions...

  • Pursuant to our previous discussions...

  • Following our previous discussions...

2

"Reference to" is incorrect, "With reference to" sounds a little weird. "Following" is technically correct but it indicates a relationship in time or space, not causality or relationship, which is what you are looking for. "Pursuant to" is ok but it is used more for legal language. ("You are being charged pursuant to CFR 123.45 Prohibition on Stupidity.")

I would recommend:

  • In reference to your letter of 17 March...
  • Regarding your letter of 17 March...
0

"With reference to" and "Pursuant to" are both correct. "In reference to" is also used.

Note that all of these are very formal. You might use them in a contract or business letter, but not they would sound very strange in a personal letter or even a less-formal business letter. It's more common to say something like, "In your letter of March 17 you requested that ... so I am sending you ...".

Similarly, "I am pleased to inform you" is also rather formal. Usually we just tell the person. That is, in a formal letter you might say, "I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted for membership." A less formal letter would just say, "You have been accepted for membership."

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