Yours Truly | Meaning, Usage & Examples

Yours truly is a standard sign-off that you can write before your name to end an email or letter. It combines the possessive pronoun “yours” with the adverb “truly” (be careful not to misspell it as “truely“) to express a sense of honesty toward the person you’re addressing.

Traditionally, it’s used when you write to someone for the first time, without having interacted with them previously. “Sincerely (yours)” is used instead when writing to someone you’ve corresponded with before. But this distinction is not strictly observed nowadays.

Example: Yours truly
Dear Ms. Jackson,

I am reaching out to inquire about …

Yours truly,

Jack Caulfield

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Truly, sincerely, or faithfully?

There are various options for letter or email sign-offs that start (or end) with “yours.” They’re used somewhat interchangeably, but some traditional and regional distinctions are made:

  • Yours truly is used in US English as a formal sign-off in correspondence with someone you don’t know.
  • Yours faithfully is used instead for the same purpose in UK English.
Example: Yours truly or faithfully
To Whom It May Concern:

Yours truly,/Yours faithfully,

Emma Johnson

  • Sincerely yours is used in US English in formal correspondence with someone you have interacted with before.
  • Yours sincerely is used for the same purpose in UK English.
    Example: Sincerely yours or Yours sincerely
    Dear Mr. Thompson,

    Thanks for your reply. I would like to follow up …

    Sincerely yours,/Yours sincerely,

    Amina Patel

    Note
    Yours truly is also used in UK English, but it’s generally considered to be a less formal alternative there. In formal correspondence in UK English, use “Yours faithfully” or “Yours sincerely” instead.

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    “Yours truly” in conversation

    You might also encounter “yours truly” outside the context of a letter or email. The phrase is often used in a facetious way to refer to oneself, essentially replacing a first-person pronoun like “I” or “me.”

    This usage is a way of placing special emphasis on oneself, usually in a humorous way—being either self-deprecating or ironically boastful. It’s considered quite informal and almost never used in a serious context.

    Note that when using the phrase in this way, it’s usual to combine it with third-person, not first-person, pronouns and determiners (e.g., “Yours truly slept through his alarm this morning”—not “my alarm”).

      Example: “Yours truly” in conversation
      Guess who managed to spill pasta sauce on herself again. That’s right, yours truly.

      Dinner is served, courtesy of yours truly. Bon appetit!

      Never fear, yours truly is here to save the day!

      Note
      Remember that, despite the inclusion of “yours,” yours truly refers to oneself, not to the person one is speaking to—that is, it’s equivalent to “I” or “me,” not to “you.”

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      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 “yours truly” mean?

      Yours truly is a phrase used at the end of a formal letter or email. It can also be used (typically in a humorous way) as a pronoun to refer to oneself (e.g., “The dinner was cooked by yours truly”). The latter usage should be avoided in formal writing.

      It’s formed by combining the second-person possessive pronoun “yours” with the adverbtruly.”

      What is a synonym for “truly”?

      There are numerous synonyms for the various meanings of truly:

      In a truthful way Absolutely Properly
      Candidly Completely Accurately
      Honestly Really Correctly
      Openly Totally Exactly
      Truthfully Undoubtedly Precisely

      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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      Caulfield, J. (2023, June 26). Yours Truly | Meaning, Usage & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved July 10, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/effective-communication/yours-truly/

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      Jack Caulfield

      Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.