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How to address letters in the modern world

(58 Posts)
MamaCaz Sun 28-Apr-19 17:41:55

Some of you will realize that this thread has been prompted by another, but it's definitely not about that thread.

It got me thinking about how we now address mail in the following situations:

If I am addressing, for example, a Christmas card that is going by mail to a married couple who share the same surname, I would usually put Mr & Mrs Jones, with no initials.

If the same card was going to be hand delivered, I would just use the couple's forenames
On a more formal letter, I would write Mr A & Mrs B Jones - in other words, I would give each their own initial, rather than just using the man's, as I find the latter very outdated.

I find it harder when the recipients are not married, or don't share the same surname.
Ok, if it is very informal, I might just use their first names (I've done this with my own sons and partners/wives), but it doesn't feel right for anything formal.

I suppose, thinking about it, I would omit Mr and Mrs, and use the initial and surname of each, A Jones & B Smith, but I realize how that I've never had to do this, so it doesn't yet feel 100% natural to me.

What do others put, and is it different from what you would have used in the past?

M0nica Sun 28-Apr-19 17:56:52

I generally follow the old rules on Mr & Mrs, and a single person. For those living together and married but with different surnames then Jane Smith & John Brown, why I do not put Ms J Smith & Mr J Brown, I am not sure.

Thinking about it the honest answer is that it depends on the moment, the name and whether I am feeling slapdash or not, and actually I generally disregard the rules.

MamaCaz Sun 28-Apr-19 18:05:39

Actually, Monica, your last paragraph probably applies to me too 😊

Witzend Sun 28-Apr-19 19:08:03

For many years, for anyone of my own generation, I have just put John and Janet Jones, or Janet and John Jones, if I know Janet better.
For older relatives like my parents, I'd usually use the trad. Mr and Mrs J Jones , since I knew they preferred it.
I'd never use it for anyone of my own generation though.

For professional reasons a sister and a dd kept their own surnames, so in such cases I'd put Janet Green and John Smith - or just Janet and John.

I send Christmas and Easter cards to a never-married lady of 80 odd who was my mother's cleaning lady for many years. I do address them to Miss Janet Jones - I don't think she'd like to be a Ms.

MawBroonsback Sun 28-Apr-19 19:10:46

Obvious, dispense with written communication in any firm.
An email or text starting “Hi guys” surely?

Doodle Sun 28-Apr-19 19:19:32

Sorry a bit off track but what is the correct form these days for a business letter now that Dear Sir/Madam is a no no?

annodomini Sun 28-Apr-19 19:20:19

If I have to write, my principle is to observe the old rules and then I can't go wrong. My only quandary, when addressing Christmas cards is how to address a couple both or whom have doctorates. I usually just use x* and Y* Z*******. Both forenames and surname, never mind the doctorates.

MamaCaz Sun 28-Apr-19 19:28:56

Doodle, not off track at all, as far as I am concerned.. I have that very thought every time I have to write to or email some unknown person! ☺

EllanVannin Sun 28-Apr-19 19:32:45

Dear Sir or Madam, as the case may be.

Doodle Sun 28-Apr-19 19:32:57

anno apparently for business purposes the old rules don’t apply. A friend got a rocket the other day by writing Dear Sir/Madam from a person with a female name who said she identified as a man and was seriously offended being addressed in such a manner and would not respond to a letter addressed in such a manner. Friend was trying to figure out if saying Dear you was the best way forward 🤔

lilypollen Sun 28-Apr-19 19:35:51

For partners I put e.g. Tessa, and Rick Field. I know it's wrong to have a comma before and!!

MamaCaz Sun 28-Apr-19 20:03:14

How do you decide whose surname to use? Do you always use the man's or does it depend which of the two you know best/have known longest?

Callistemon Sun 28-Apr-19 20:16:50

Dear Thingy

I was thinking about the double barrelled surname problem and thinking that many children these days have double-barrelled forenames, eg Ellie-Mae, Lola-May, Amelia-Rose etc and thinking what a mouthful it all is.

eg Miss (or Ms or Ze) Amelia-Rose Cartington-Smythe

Fancy having to write that on the front of your school exercise books.

MamaCaz Sun 28-Apr-19 20:17:40

I haven't felt comfortable for using 'Dear Sir or Madam' for some time now, and even less comfortable using 'Dear Madam'.
I wouldn't verbally address someone under maybe 70 using those words, so don't feel right doing it in writing either.

BBbevan Sun 28-Apr-19 20:21:55

I would dislike to receive a letter or e-mail starting' Hi guys' .I am not a guy in any sense of the word. Wouldn't mind 'Hi BB' but guy No !

Scribbles Sun 28-Apr-19 22:20:38

Apart from cards to a couple of OH's very aged cousins, I simply use first name and surname on the envelope for just about everyone. I prefer to receive things addressed that way, too. I can just about tolerate being labelled Ms but loathe being styled Mrs.

As for Dear Sir/Madam; if I know the name of the person I'm writing to, then it's Dear Peter Pratt or Dear Felicity Fusspot. If I can't find out the name, they'll have to live with Dear Sir/Madam. Life's too short to pander to this sort of preciousness!

BlueBelle Mon 29-Apr-19 07:54:49

I haven’t used a title for years and years I m just Jane Plain not Mrs Miss or Ms that sounds like a bee in distress
Addressing letters or cards I used first and surname Joan Cone or MarkTime
If it was a formal letter it would be sir/madam I have no idea of what a person with fluid identity or trans would want to be addressed as Dear What ?????

Anja Mon 29-Apr-19 07:57:16

I take delight in addressing letters to Mrs & Mr especially if the Mrs is my friend and the Mr just her husband.

MamaCaz Mon 29-Apr-19 09:07:32

I would dislike to receive a letter or e-mail starting' Hi guys' .I am not a guy in any sense of the word. Wouldn't mind 'Hi BB' but guy No !

And I'm definitely not a madam, either 😆

grannyticktock Mon 29-Apr-19 10:07:06

With cards to friends, I use Firstname(s) Surname, no titles.

When writing a formal letter to an organisation, and you don't have a name to address the correspondence to, there doesn't seem to be much option except "Dear Sir/Madam". If it's an email, you can get away with no salutation, or just "FAO Customer Services" etc, but a written letter needs something to start it off.

Bellanonna Mon 29-Apr-19 10:24:52

Agree with your second para grannyticktock.

I notice it has been quite common for some years now to address people by both their names as in Dear Jane Smith. That would be in a formal situation obviously.

Jane10 Mon 29-Apr-19 10:25:55

Our dentist gave out a form for patients to fill in. Among the questions was 'How would you like to be addressed'. Naturally I put Madam.
Strangely, they all seem to call me Jane. Sooooo disrespectful.

Bellanonna Mon 29-Apr-19 10:31:02

Oh I put “Your Ladyship” but they still call me Bella!

Craftycat Mon 29-Apr-19 10:57:13

My best friend who I have known all my life insists on addressing me on envelopes as Mrs 'A' Surname when my initial is 'H' & DH is A.
It drives me potty. I remind her she calls herself a feminist but she still insists it is the 'correct' way to do it.
I now put ALL her initials on envelopes as I know she hates her 2 middle names.
That drives her potty so we are quits & still best friends!

JanaNana Mon 29-Apr-19 11:23:16

Any cards that we need to send through the post were the couple are unmarried, I would address in either of these ways: Mary & John Smith-Jones for example as I think this acknowledges them politely. If it was a formal invitation then probably write their full names Mary Smith & John Jones. If I was seeing them face to face at a party or family gathering would just hand them the card with the first names only on the envelope.
I don't write many formal letters or emails these days, but would still write Dear Sir/Madam, maybe drop the "dear" depending on the contents of the letter in question. I don't really know what you would write in place of it unless you were to say Dear Mr.... or Dear Mrs....etc. some of these ways we were taught at school are imprinted on our way of doing things.
What I don't like is when I receive newsletters through the post a few times a year from charities I support addressing me just by my first name, like they are my best friends. I have never met them so prefer Mrs J.