In many countries of the world English language is very important in their local and international environments. Communication in English language could be done either in the speaking or written form. Many people work in organizations where they have to write a lot in English. It is either they have to write a letter, or they reply to a letter. With internet communication electronic letters are done through email. Which ever mode one is writing it is often important for one to write very well.
Professional or formal letters should be presented in a formal way. The same thing applies to an informal letter. The way somebody writes speaks a volume about him or her. When writing a letter it is important to create a positive image about oneself.
Yours sincerely and yours faithfully are two expressions or phrases people encounter while writing letters. These two phrases are regarded as complimentary close. These phrases are often misused or exchanged wrongly by many letter writers. This tends to create confusion among many people as to when to use each of them. This problem is further compounded by the fact that English is a global language. There are different variations of the language. There is the British English, the American English, the Canadian English and several others. The way these variations of English treat phrases are not the same. It is possible that one word or phrase could mean different things to the people that speak the same language.
There seems to be a common agreement with minor variations on the use of yours faithfully and yours sincerely. Yours faithfully are generally used in a letter when it begins Dear Sir, or with Dear Madam. On the other hand, if the letter starts with the personal name of the recipients, for instance, Dear Mr. John or Dear Mrs. Agnes the letter should end with yours sincerely.
When the letter is a formal letter most people prefer to close it with yours faithfully, in the same way when the letter is an informal, the closing should always end with yours sincerely. In other words, the letter we write to government officials or government departments should conventionally end by yours faithfully. The letter we write to our parents, siblings and even friends should have a complimentary close of yours sincerely.
Closing a formal letter such as the one to a government official with yours sincerely is wrong. It means that the writer is an acquaintance with the official. Even if one is known to government officials personally one is bound to write that letter in a formal tone and close with yours faithfully. The letter is not the private property of the official, it is a public document. Another occupant could be promoted to that office and inherit such letters.
In some countries there are slight variations in the way they treat the two phrases. In the UK for instance yours faithfully is used in all official letters. In the same way yours sincerely is used in all informal letters. However, in the USA yours faithfully are used only in social correspondences, while yours faithfully are used in business letters.
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