Dear Mr./Ms. (Last name),

When you're writing formal letters or e-mails, the most common way to start them off is with:

  • the word "Dear"
  • the title of the person who you're writing to ("Mr." or "Ms.")
  • the person's last name
  • a comma (",") for less formal letters or a colon (":") for more formal ones

For example:

Dear Ms. Yokoyama:

Dear Mr. Traven,

But you shouldn't address all letters and e-mails this way. Most personal messages just begin with "Hi (first name),". But you should use the more formal greeting above in these situations:

  • You're writing to a customer who you don't personally know.
  • Your message might involve some legal action.
  • You're applying for something like a job or admission to a school.

This phrase appears in these lessons: