Business Writing

Talk, tips, and best picks for writers on the job.

Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Share this page

« Book Review: Confessions of a Comma Queen | Main | Don't Be Driven by the Three-Email Rule »

May 13, 2015


Jude Barrett

Hi Lynn, my first name is Jude. I'm a guy that frequently receives responses to emails sent outside our organization that use the incorrect gender. I just shrug it off and (if the exchange will be on-going) correct the sender. Something I'm used to.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Jude,

That happens to me too, since Lynn is a man's name as well as a woman's. I am always surprised when people call me Mr. in response to this blog.



Hi Lynn,
I've read somewhere that using "Dear Sirs" is correct for both genders, what do you think? I'm not a native English speaker and I generally use it when writing to more than 2-3 people. I'm I wrong?
By the way, people from China/India always call me Mr, is there a polite way to tell them I'm a Ms?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Deborah,

"Dear Sirs" is not correct now, but it was a standard greeting long ago. Read this blog post for a discussion:

If people use "Mr." to greet you, add "Ms." or "Mrs." to your signature block, like this:

Ms. Lynn Gaertner-Johnston



Dear Lynn, thank you for your answer and the link to the discussion, I'll surely find a better way to start my emails.

Thank you for this blog! It's a great source of useful material for people like me. I'd love to be able to communicate in English as efficently as I can do in Italian.

Andre Coop

Dear Lynn,

I enjoy your blog and kudos for what you do. As a federal employee, there are many times in which we need to use the "read receipt" function, and I try to simplify this with a short courtesy. “Dear preferred name, as a partner with ____, I have requested a receipt once this message has safely arrived in your inbox after passing through our firewall, please allow this to process for protocol reasons”.
There are “special” cases where the Bcc is used…


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston


Thank you for your kind words. I am glad to be helpful.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Andre,

Thank you for your positive words.

I agree that the read receipt can be useful at times. In your situation, I would send a brief email informing the reader of the need for a read receipt BEFORE sending the important message. Otherwise, the reader may just ignore your read receipt request before opening your message.

You might write something like this:


Dear _____,

In email exchanges with you, I will request a receipt letting me know that you have received the message. The reason for this request is to be certain that the message has passed through our firewall and has arrived in your inbox.

Because of this protocol, please allow any read receipts to be sent.





Hi Lynn,

My colleague always write email with the greeting like this:

TO Andrea,
Would like to

He always use "To Andrea" instead of "Dear Andrea" or "Hi Andrea". Is it a proper way of email greeting? Some time, my subordinate also use "To Andrea".

Thanks & Regards,

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Andrea,

That way of beginning an email is incorrect. Of course, the message is "TO Andrea." Your name is on the To line of the email!

Please spread the word that such an opening is incorrect. Other options are:

Hi Andrea,
Hello Andrea,
Dear Andrea, [formal for an internal message]
Good morning, Andrea.
Andrea, I would like to inform . . .

Good luck!


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Share this page
© 2005-present - Syntax Training - All Rights Reserved