Anyone well versed in letter writing should be able to clearly distinguish between “Yours sincerely” and “Yours faithfully”. However, many people are confused as to which is the appropriate option –between “Yours faithfully” and “Yours sincerely” –for ending their letters.
“Yours sincerely” and “Yours faithfully” differ considerably with the only similarity being that they are both complimentary closes.
Since appropriate use of complimentary closes constitutes the yardsticks for identifying well-written letters, you should be keen to know the suitable complimentary close for the nature of your letter.
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“Yours sincerely” and Its Usage
“Yours sincerely” may not have any specific meaning beyond the fact that it is a complimentary expression commonly used in letter writing. It is one of the key elements of an informal letter –a letter written to somebody you’re familiar with.
The basic rule for using “Yours sincerely” is that it should come at the end of a letter written to somebody you know or have met before. In other words, “Yours sincerely” is included as a complimentary close in letters written under informal circumstances. If you’re writing a letter to a friend, relative or somebody you’re very familiar with, “Yours sincerely” can be used in closing the letter.
While using “Yours sincerely”, it’s important that you keep the rest of your letter in tune with the informal tone that comes with this complimentary close. Simply put, your salutation should reflect some informality by indicating the name of your recipient rather than a formal title such as Sir or Ma. For example, you may salute your recipient thus “Dear Peters,” and end the letter with “Yours sincerely, and your own name starting with your first name.” e.g. “Yours sincerely, John Becker.”
“Yours faithfully” and Its Usage
“Yours faithfully” is a kind of complimentary close often restricted to formal correspondence such as business letters. Just like “Yours sincerely”, it doesn’t seem to have any special meaning beyond its complimentary usage in correspondence writing.
With “Yours faithfully” being a formal complimentary close, it is commonly required for use while writing letters under business and other formal circumstances. Therefore, if you’re writing a letter to somebody you aren’t familiar with, “Yours faithfully” is the proper complimentary close your letter should bear. “Yours faithfully” is suitable for closing all kinds of formal correspondence including application letters, business letters and other letters with an official tone.
When using “Yours faithfully”, it’s essential that you align your salutation and other areas with the formality of this complimentary close. In your salutation, you can, therefore, use “Dear Sir,” or “Dear Ma,” depending on the gender of your recipient. When closing a letter in this case, do well to place your initials and surname this way: “Yours faithfully, G. O. Barrell”
“Yours sincerely” and “Yours faithfully” are both applicable to letter writing but they are used differently. Whereas “Yours faithfully” is the suitable complimentary close for business letters and other formal correspondence, “Yours sincerely” is considered an appropriate complimentary close for informal letters.