Letter Greetings and Closings

From time to time, everyone has to write letters. Written correspondence can make a grandmother smile, give best friends at camp a good laugh, or say “thank you” in a way that a phone call or e-mail never can. When you pack your bags to go to camp or on a vacation, don't forget to include envelopes you've already stamped and addressed to the people you want to write to. All you need to do is write a letter, pop it in the envelope, and send it off!

Friendly? Business?

Basically, there are two types of letters: business and friendly. The differences are pretty clear. Business letters are more formal. If there is an issue you care about, you can write a letter to your governor, senator, or representative. This type of letter is a business letter. Usually, when a person writes a formal letter, it is because he is doing work, or he doesn't know the person he is writing to very well.

You have much more freedom with friendly letters. You write friendly letters to your friends and family. You can write letters to thank them for a gift or just to say hello.

No Matter What

No matter whether you are writing a friendly letter or a business letter, specific parts of the letter should be capitalized and proper punctuation should be followed. Putting commas or periods in wrong places can make it very difficult for people to figure out what you are trying to say. However, when you follow basic capitalization rules, you can be as imaginative as possible and still be clearly understood. There are no guidelines for the length of a letter. It can be a few lines, or it can be pages and pages. What is the longest letter you've ever written? Do you enjoy getting mail? Maybe you could sit down and write someone a letter soon! But first, you should probably make sure you know the basic parts of a letter.

The Greeting

This part of the letter is what the reader of your note sees first! It can be fancy, with sesame seeds, or plain white and toasted. That is your call! The greeting of a letter does exactly what it says — it greets the recipient, or the person who is about to receive the letter. The greeting is always capitalized. Dear John. Dear Dr. John. Dear Captain John. In a business letter, you would need to put a colon after John. For a friendly letter, you would put a comma.

Business letters are sometimes addressed to customer service representatives (the people you write to if you have a problem with something you bought, or if you want to thank someone for especially good service), and sometimes you don't know the name of the person you're writing to. In this case, it is common to use the standard phrase, To Whom It May Concern. That sounds pretty old-fashioned, don't you think? However, this nifty greeting is perfect in a lot of instances, especially if you are not sure who the reader is going to be. Notice how each word in this formal greeting is capitalized since it is all part of the greeting.

How would you begin a letter to some important people in your life? Would you call them Dear? Would you start out the letter with a Hi? Is there anyone to whom you could mail a To Whom It May Concern letter?

Parts of a Letter

There are three basic parts to every letter: the greeting, the body of the letter, and the closing. You could compare these parts to a hamburger. The greeting and closing are the buns, and the meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, mustard, and ketchup would be the body. Or, if you have a really short letter, you might just have bread and a small hamburger patty.

On and On and On

The body of a letter does not have to be just one paragraph. It can be as many paragraphs as you would like it to be!

The Body of a Letter

Like a really delicious cheeseburger, the body of the letter is the good stuff. You can say whatever you want to, in whatever way you want to. It can be as large or small as you would like. Who could you write a long letter to? How about a very short letter, just a few lines? Whether your letter is chatty and full of fun or simple and to the point, you still need to watch your spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Capitalize the first word of every sentence. Capitalize proper nouns.

Let's try it out. Get out some paper, go to Appendix A, find a word from the frequently misspelled list, and write someone a letter using that word. You don't have to send it off if you don't want to, but maybe there's someone you know right now who would love to receive a letter from you. Wouldn't it make their day to get a letter in their mailbox?

Write Right

This pen pal is responding to a letter, but she's made some errors. Can you find five?

dear Mrs. Brown,

so nice to hear from you again. I hope your visit to doctor Wilson went well. I have to go see the Dentist next week and I am nervous because I have cavities. I'm going to go brush my teeth now. Please give my love to your cat felix.

Regards, Betsy

HANDMADE WRITING

If you want to give someone a special gift, try a handwritten letter. A lot of people consider this a perfect gift because it shows you took the time and effort to think about them. Make it even nicer by decorating it with flowers or other drawings.

The Closing

Oh, the closing, the bottom half of the burger! Just like that bottom bun, it needs to be solid and substantial. If it is flimsy it won't hold up the rest of the burger and then you'll have a real mess on your hands! Most closings are comprised of only one or two words. These words are capitalized. So, the closing might be friendly, such as Your Friend, or really friendly, like Love. For business letters, the closing might be more businesslike. You might use words such as Sincerely or Very Sincerely. Sometimes people like to write With Warm Regards or just a simple Regards. Finally, don't forget that the closing is the last bit of information your recipient sees. Try to make it fun and interesting.

Examples

Here are two examples. One is a formal letter, and the other is a friendly letter. See if you can notice the major differences between the two.

Try This

Become a Pen Pal

Become a pen pal to a lady or gentleman at a nearby retirement home. Ask the director if there is someone who would be willing to write back and forth to you, and then make a point to write her a letter once a month. You will have fun receiving mail, and you might just make a new friend!

Become a pen pal to a lady or gentleman at a nearby retirement home. Ask the director if there is someone who would be willing to write back and forth to you, and then make a point to write her a letter once a month. You will have fun receiving mail, and you might just make a new friend!

Try This: Origami

Origami is the art of folding papers into beautiful and fun shapes. Some letter writers used to fold their letters into interesting shapes before delivering them to their recipients. Wouldn't it be fun to receive a letter in the shape of a heart or a crane? Check out a book on origami and give paper folding a try!

To Whom It May Concern:

Yesterday I received your collar for my miniature To dachshund, Suzy. Unfortunately, this collar was too large and she has been tripping over it! Did you not realize that miniature dachshunds have short legs? I need a new, Suzy-size collar fast. Therefore, I would like a complete refund as soon as possible.

I have enclosed the purchased collar as well as a picture of it on my dog. As you can clearly see, Suzy does not like how this collar fits her. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely, Simon

Dear Grandma,

Mexico is so much fun! I am having a really good time on vacation, but I miss you and I wish you were here with us.

On Independence Day we went to Chichén Itzá, which was a major ancient Mayan city. There weren't any fireworks, but there was a light show that lit up the whole city. I'll show you pictures when we get back, but the best part was the huge pyramid. Liam and I wanted to climb it, but Dad wouldn't let us.

We're leaving on Saturday, so we have a few more days to enjoy the beach. Thank you for watching Fluff y while we're gone. I hope he's behaving himself!

Love, Lily

  1. Home
  2. Spelling for Kids
  3. Capitalization Counts
  4. Letter Greetings and Closings
Visit other About.com sites: