Sincerely Yours | Meaning, When to Use & Examples
Sincerely yours is a standard sign-off, used to end an email or letter, followed by your name on the next line. “Sincerely” is an adverb meaning “genuinely” and is used to emphasize your honest intentions toward the person addressed.
This sign-off is relatively formal, but according to some authorities it should only be used when writing to someone you already know, not a complete stranger. An alternative like “Yours truly” should be used with someone you’ve never written to before.
Yours sincerely or Sincerely yours?
The order in which you write the two words depends on whether you’re writing in US or UK English:
- In US English, Sincerely yours is the normal word order.
- In UK English, Yours sincerely is used instead.
Sincerely on its own
A popular alternative, particularly in the US, is to write Sincerely on its own, without including “yours” at all. This usage is now more common than the version with “yours” in US business correspondence. It conveys a slightly less formal tone, although still not casual.
Use this sign-off in US correspondence if you want to tone down the formality slightly without becoming overly informal. In the UK, where it hasn’t gained as much popularity, it’s still safest to stick with Yours sincerely.
Sincerely, truly, or faithfully?
Sincerely can also be replaced with either faithfully or truly in formal correspondence. Both these alternatives are supposed to be used when writing to a person you haven’t interacted with before, especially if you addressed them as “Dear Sir or Madam.”
Their popularity again varies between US and UK English:
- Yours truly is more popular in US English.
- Yours faithfully is standard in UK English.
Note that the rules of when to use each one are followed less strictly in US correspondence. Yours truly is often used whether you know the person or not, and people are unlikely to object to it.
Other interesting language articles
If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.
Frequently asked questions
- What does “sincerely” mean?
Sincerely is an adverb meaning “genuinely” or “honestly.” It’s related to the adjective “sincere.” It’s commonly used on its own or in combination with “yours” as a sign-off at the end of an email message or letter. It’s a formal way of ending a message that emphasizes your honest intentions toward the recipient.
It’s also used in other contexts to emphasize the genuineness of a feeling (e.g., “I am sincerely sorry for my comments”).
- Is it “your sincerely” or “yours sincerely”?
- Should I write “Sincerely” or “Yours truly”?
Traditionally, the sign-off Sincerely or Yours sincerely is used in an email message or letter when you are writing to someone you have interacted with before, not a complete stranger.
Yours truly is used instead when you are writing to someone you have had no previous correspondence with, especially if you greeted them as “Dear Sir or Madam.” But the difference is no longer strictly observed in US English, and you can generally use Yours truly for someone you know without any issues.
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