#BusEng: “Complementary Close” – How to Write a Formal Email (2)

Hi fellas, we meet again! Our session today is about complimentary close. This session is an extended discussion of “#BusEng: How to Write a Formal Email for Job Application” last week. You could find the prior discussion somewhere in this web. Now what is a complementary close?

A complementary close is a word or phrase prior to the sender’s signature or name in an email or letter.

Some examples of complementary closes are ‘regards,’ ‘yours faithfully,’ and ‘yours sincerely.’ Complementary close is not just a final word/phrase in your email. It is in fact the very last appeal of your email for your future employer. What makes it surprising is there are rules in using complementary closes! Meaning to say that you can’t use them as you like in your email. Let’s narrow down the scope of the discussion into complementary closes used in America and England. We will take ‘Yours faithfully’ and ‘Yours sincerely’ vs ‘Yours truly’ and ‘Sincerely yours,’

  • ‘Yours faithfully,’ or ‘Yours sincerely,’ are British complementary close. They are very unusual in America. So, make sure that you use British English (BrE) vocabulary when writing your email to ensure uniformity of the diction. Some of the BrE vocabulary and their pairs in American English (AmE) are arranged respectively as follow.

Labour – labor, ex-directory – unlisted, motorway – highway, postbox – mailbox, postcode – zip code, quantity surveyor – estimator, state school – public school, lift – elevator, and pocket money – allowance

You may check out this cool website http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/british-and-american-terms for your reference on AmE vs BrE terms.

  • You can only use ‘Yours faithfully,’ when you begin your email with “Dear Sir/Madam. In other words, you SHOULD use ‘Yours faithfully,’ when you DON’T KNOW the name of the email’s addressee.
  • In the other hand, ‘Yours sincerely,’ is only used when you KNOW the name of the addressee. Therefore, if you begin your email with “Dear Mr. XXX,” you outta use ‘Yours sincerely,’ instead of ‘Yours faithfully’ as your complementary close.
  • Writing ‘Sincerely,’ without ‘yours’ is very impolite in British business correspondence.

Blue Email Envelope

Now, let’s take a look at ‘Yours truly,’ and ‘Sincerely yours,.’

  • ‘Yours truly,’ and ‘Sincerely yours,’ are the complementary closes that are commonly used in America.
  • ‘Yours truly,’ is the American complementary close equivalent to ‘Yours faithfully.’ Therefore, you should not use ‘yours truly’ if you know the name of the recipient. Meaning to say, if you begin your email with “Dear Sir/Madam,” end it with ‘Yours truly,’ if the recipient is American.
  • Should you know the name of the addressee, you may use ‘Sincerely yours,’ or even ‘Yours sincerely,’ since they are just the same in America.
  • ‘Sincerely,’ without ‘yours’ is totally OK in America but not in England.

Other than those aforementioned complementary closes, we also have ‘Kind regards, ‘Best regards,’ ‘Best wishes,’ and ‘Regards,.’ They are used for someone you know well. He/she could be you close working partner, friends, or even your loved ones if you want to. Meanwhile, ‘Regards,’ is a semi-formal complementary close that performs similarly both in America and England.

That’s all! I hope it broadens your horizon in Business English. For those who are applying for a job or a scholarship or a campus, I hope this discussion helps! Also, good luck for your application!


Compiled and written by @wisznu at @EnglishTips4u on October 8, 2015

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