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In my opinion we should always have some type of greeting in every email. Whether it be "Hello (Name)" or "Good Afternoon (Name)" or simply "Dear (Name)", it is always nice to start your email off with a greeting.

I am not very clear about when to use which kind of greeting in an email, however.

Can anybody please clear up when to use 'dear' or 'Hi/Hello' greetings in emails?

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    Are you talking about a casual email to a friend, or a professional email to a colleague ? – Gaʀʀʏ Apr 5 '13 at 12:57
  • I am asking about a professional emails to different persons like HR/seniors/juniors /customers/clients/service providers anybody it can be!. – SanjeevRai Apr 5 '13 at 13:02
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There are no hard and fast rules about what greetings (salutations) to use in email. If you want to be polite and formal in English, then you should say something like:

Dear Mr. Smith:
Dear Ms. Jones:
Dear Dr. Jekyll:
Dear Prof. Einstein:

If you want to be polite and informal, replace the colon (:) with a comma:

Dear Mr. Smith,
etc.

When authors send me a manuscript, regardless what salutation they use to address me, I always start off this way:

Hi, Dr Jiang,
Hi, Prof Jou,

(Almost all my clients are Taiwanese doctors and medical school professors).

When I write to my friends, I always start of the same way:

Hi, Tam,
Hi, Kathy,

This is just a stylistic choice, a personal preference.

For business letters other than my editing, however, I always use the polite formal style in the first examples.

There is no definitive answer to your question, just a recommendation that for serious and important business letters (anything not to a friend or a penpal, and anything not informal), that you use the polite formal or polite informal style. You can find lots of choices in handbooks about how to write letters in English. Be advised, however, that different brands of English prefer different styles. The one that's best is the one you feel most comfortable with and the one that you think works best for any particular letter.

The more formal and more polite your initial salutation, the more emotional distance you put between yourself and the person you're writing to.

For friends and otherwise informal emails, the same rule of thumb applies: The one that's best is the one you feel most comfortable with and the one that you think works best for any particular letter.

Everyone has a different idea about what's good.

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    You put a comma after 'hi'? edit: and a colon after 'Dear Mr Whoever'? – mcalex Apr 5 '13 at 13:25
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    I'm with @mcalex on that one; don't think there should be a comma there. Still, great answer; +1! – WendiKidd Apr 5 '13 at 13:27
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    @EnglishLearner: My 16-year-old son thinks any movie made or song recorded more than 20 years ago is ancient. That makes me both ancient & archaic. But politesse never goes out of style, unless it's used inappropriately, & only experience can tell you when that is. Unlike some 19th-century & earlier epistlers, I don't address my wife as "Mrs Franke" in writing or speech. – user264 Apr 5 '13 at 13:53
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    @EnglishLearner: I have never considered "Dear Mr Franke" "an affectionate or friendly form of address", only a formal & formulaic one when written by a stranger. When my long-time repeat clients address me "Dear Bill", I consider it affectionate & friendly. Some of them do: gratitude on their part. Most of them, though, are merely being formal & polite. Emails in Taiwan are different from emails in the US & UK. But I'm formal everywhere & with everyone, my family included. I prefer being detached. I don't recommend it for others, though: I'm generally antisocial & love working solo--me+PC. – user264 Apr 5 '13 at 14:37
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    @EnglishLearner, "Dear Mr., Ms., etc..." is definitely not archaic, it's still considered formal business writing (though if you stop to think about it long enough you have to wonder why! lol!) Count me among the ancient ones, too. – Kristina Lopez Apr 5 '13 at 23:18
2

Greetings,

Some very good suggestions have been made about when to use which sort of greeting in an e-mail.

I would like to point out that e-mail greetings are also contingent upon company culture: especially for internal e-mail. For example, some companies recommend not even using a greeting at all since this uses up precious time. For writers that only need to send one or two e-mails a day, this is no big deal; however, this can be a time-saver for people dealing in large volumes.

Finally, I would also like to add another greeting that hasn't been added thus far: "Greetings,". An example is provided at the very beginning of my post here.

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As Bill suggests, there is no defined way to greet via email. There are methods that are widely accepted:

Hello John, //informal, but can be used informal contexts, e.x. when emailing a member on your team

Hello can be interchanged with hi or hey, or left out altogether depending on the mood. Hello is the most formal of the three.

If you do not email the person(s) often, you could substitute the greeting with Dear

Dear John,

It is less common to see this in email, but still appropriate and acceptable.

If you are talking to a group of people, you can use

Hello all,

Hey all,

Good morning,

Or if it is just two people you are working with directly:

John and Joe,

If it is someone you have never contacted before, it is commonplace to use Mr, Ms, Mrs, or Dr. More on educational titles

Dear Mr. Lincoln,

Dear Dr. Brown,

If you are still undecided on how to begin your email, you can mimic how they have responded to you in the past, or take a look at some of your other emails and follow off them.

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