Dear Sir or Madam/Anrede

Sheherazade asks how to address a mixed-sex or purely female group in correspondence or email:

bq. I have occasion fairly often to send emails or letters that open with the greeting “Gentlemen:” and I must say I do like the sound of it — somber, well-mannered, a little old-fashioned. But in the same deals when I get correspondence back that begins “Ladies and Gentlemen:” the connotation for me is that of a circus ringmaster, about to announce a perilous and amazing stunt by a trapeze artist. And what if there were a deal where all those involved were women? Would “Ladies:” be an appropriate opener?

I have often followed discussions on whether one should write ‘Dear Sirs’. One possibility is ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. But this case is different – she knows she is writing to a group. Commenters suggested ‘Counsel’. OK, maybe they are all lawyers. That would be OK in the USA.

In Germany it has long since been the practice to write ‘Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren’, and in British English, it was customary to use ‘Dear Sirs’ at a later date.

Here’s a discussion on Leo.

8 thoughts on “Dear Sir or Madam/Anrede

  1. Have recently seen the hybrid “Dear Sirs and Madames” (yes!) in official and semi-official correspondence, both European and U.S. Usage documented on the web includes releases of the Center for Health and Gender Equity of Tacoma Park, MD, of all organizations. Sounds better than anything else I know – and why not drive innovation for once, rather than dig for the accepted phrase all the time?

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