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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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February 05, 2006


Janet Gordon

Thank you. I really needed this.



I have a question about salutations.

I have seldom been comfortable with "Dear" which is an inaccurate adjective in most instances. In formal writing, is there any alternative?

Then, regarding email, it bugs me to put a comma after "Hi Freddy," as I think it should be "Hi, Freddy." --period. To me, this is a sentence. It seems illogical to put a comma at the end, just because one's in the habit of doing so for adjective-based salutations. I mean, "Dearest Frederika," or "Beloved Fred," obviously are not sentences. I prefer, "Freida, Hello."
What do you think?

I'm also uncomfortable with signing off with "Regards" and what not. It seems superfulous and fake. I use "Sincerely" for formal letters, but mostly, prefer to just put my name at the end, unless it's very personal. Does that work?

*Otherwise, I am not particularily attentive to grammar. It's just these repeat occasions that nag at me.
Thank you for any consideration that you can give this.


Jo, I have written about these topics. Scroll through my Frequently Asked Questions category. In January of 2006, look for the post "With Best Wishes." In August 2005, look for "Do I Have to Call You Dear?" I think these will respond to your questions.


Hi, Lynn,
How would you interpret the following frases (a song name):
1) I am cooking baby.
2) I am cooking, baby.
Thanks and best regards,
Praha, CZ



Without the comma, the first one suggests the speaker is cooking the baby. It's only a suggestion, of course. We know better.

In the second one, the speaker is addressing someone as "baby." "Cooking" has a lot of slang meanings. My first thought is "I'm really into it."

In either case, you might want to use the contraction "I'm" rather than "I am." The contraction sounds like natural speech. "I am" sounds more emphatic.

Hope that helps. Keep on writing and singing.



Hello Lynn,

I disagree. There should not be a comma between "Hello" and "Lynn".

Stan :)


Hello, Stan. What do you base your disagreement on? Which style guide do you follow?


Need to confirm when using multiple names in the signature section of a greeting card do you use commas after every name ie.

Matt, Mark, Andrew, and Karen or is it Matt, Mark, Andrew and Karen?


Both are correct. I prefer the comma before "and."



Dear Lynn,

I'm a little confused with using a comma after Hi or Hello. Is it necessary to put in a comma whenever we just write "Hi".



Divya, please see the explanation and exceptions at the beginning of this blog entry.


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