Language Rules

Definately Fixing Alot Of Americas Grammar 1 Word At A Thyme

Hello, world!

with 5 comments

With the widespread use of email in the last decade, I’ve observed that a popular and acceptable salutation is written in this form:

Hi Bob,

That is, the word “Hi” followed immediately by the name of the addressee and a comma.

Because email can be a very casual means of communication, most people greet one another with a “Hi” instead of the more formal letter opening such as:

Dear Bob,

However, the correct form for addressing someone by name is to precede the name with a comma, as in:

Hi, Bob!

In both personal and business email, however, it’s become acceptable to adopt the hi-name-comma convention.

In this situation, the comma is still present. I lament the increasing disappearance of the comma in our everyday writing, particularly when addressing another person. Already I notice people skipping the use of the comma in sentences such as:

Where are you going Jane?


Okay Chris I’ll see you later.

The above sentences look like they belong in a second grade English test on the use of commas. We’ve got to draw the line somewhere — and the line resembles a period with a tail that is written before and/or after the name of the person you’re addressing.

Where are you going, Jane?


Okay, Chris, I’ll see you later.

Otherwise it’s a slippery slope to:

You should eat Nancy before you leave the house in the morning.

Written by wellaintheworld

2006 Sep 4 at 04:05

Posted in punctuation

5 Responses

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  1. I always finish my e-mails with:


    I don’t know when I started doing so. I live in Belgium and I conclude every Flemish/Dutch mail with:


    That’s very common. Almost everyone does it like that overhere. ‘Mvg’ is the short version of ‘met vriendelijke groeten’ (‘with friendly salutations’ if you translate it literally). In French I close with s-à-v or s-à-t depending on the person I write too: salut-à-vous (vous = thou) or salut-à-toi (toi = you).

    Note that English is a very informal language. In Dutch and French we still use ‘u’ or ‘vous’ very frequently for people that deserve our respect (because they are higher in hierarchy, or older, or…) and ‘je/jij’ or ‘tu/toi’ among friends, or in casual situations.

    Anyway, I wrote a book for an American publisher (with Tiffany as copy editor) and I closed all the mails to my developmental editor with ‘br’. Only after months of writing, my developmental editor asked me what these two letter meant. I wonder, am I the only one closing mails this way?

    Bruno Lowagie

    2006 Sep 7 at 05:02

  2. Bruno, what does “br” stand for? Best regards? English is indeed a very informal language, especially so in the States. I think you’ll find that salutations differe here too depending on to whom you’re communicating. For instance, in informal settings between friends and family, it’s more common to either just sign your name or leave it blank (like I sometimes do!), whereas in more academic or formal written conversations, or even occasionally in conversations with elders or people in senior positions, salutations like “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” “Thank you for your time,” etc. are much more common. In that respect, you are definitely not alone in signing your messages that way!


    2006 Sep 7 at 11:12

  3. I’d never seen:


    as a sign-off in an email. Not bad. When using “best regards” here in the U.S. for emails, I’ve observed this usage:


    Maybe your sign-off will catch on in the States!

    PS – At least you have a comma in there! :-)


    2006 Sep 7 at 15:41

  4. I use ‘br’ as an abbreviation for ‘Best regards’ for years now, in analogy with the way I sign off mails in Dutch or French. Only recently people started asking me what ‘br’ stands for. Some people thought it was short for Bruno; there were even people that thought it was some kind of grunt ;-)

    Bruno Lowagie

    2006 Sep 8 at 05:38

  5. Strange. Why anyone would sign emails with written grunt is beyond me!


    2006 Sep 8 at 07:27

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