DEAR MISS MANNERS: When one writes to close friends/family, what are the possible letter endings? And in the case of teachers, which is a suitable letter ending?
Where would it be apt to use “Yours sincerely,” “Yours faithfully” and “Yours truly”? And to which kinds of recipients?
GENTLE READER: You and Miss Manners must be the only people left who use the conventional forms in letters. Others apparently suffer from the current Fear of Formality, believing that anything short of chumminess is snooty -- even in obviously formal situations. Or they may analyze the words and decide that they are not “yours” at all to the recipient, let alone sincerely, faithfully or truthfully.
Thus many letters now open with “Hi” instead of “Dear,” and end with “Best wishes,” “Best regards” or just “Best.” They could do better.
Miss Manners realizes that forms change over the years. She admits that “I remain, sir, your most humble, obedient servant” would not now pass either the truth test or the literal meaning test.
Still, she would like to retain some difference between addressing lovers, strangers and those in between. In formal correspondence, “Yours truly” is the closing for business letters. “Sincerely yours” is for social correspondence short of the love-and-kisses stage, or the more restrained “Fondly yours” or “Affectionately yours” for close friends and relatives.
Which would be suitable for a teacher depends on the content of the letter.
If you are writing to demand a change in your grade, it should be businesslike; if you are expressing gratitude for intellectual enlightenment, the more personal declaration of sincerity would be warranted.
But Miss Manners is not quite so rigid as to exclude a burst of enthusiasm, such as “Gratefully yours,” in the latter case. And those for whom “sincerely” and “truly” are not chummy enough should feel free to toss in a “very” with either one.