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.
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.
- 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.
“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”).
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 “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.
- What is a synonym for “truly”?
- 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.
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.