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A valediction (derivation from Latin vale dicere, 'to say farewell'), or complimentary close in American English, is an expression used to say farewell, especially a word or phrase used to end a letter or message, or the act of saying parting words whether brief or extensive.
For the greetings counterpart to valediction, see salutation.
Alternatively, valediction can refer to the final prayers and remarks at the graveside before burial given by the presiding priest, after the Mass and the rite of Final Commendation, during a Roman Catholic funeral service, or to a speech given by a valedictorian at a commencement.
- 1 English
- 2 French
- 3 Hebrew
- 4 German
- 5 Portuguese
- 6 Russian
- 7 Spanish
- 8 Hungarian
- 9 Swedish
- 10 Japanese
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Valedictions normally immediately precede the signature in written correspondence. The word or words used express respect, esteem, or regard for the person to whom the correspondence is directed, and the exact form used depends on a number of factors — including:
- the formality of the correspondence
- the relationship to the recipient
Conventions also change over time and differ according to language.
English valedictions typically contain the possessive pronoun "yours". "Yours faithfully", "Yours truly", or "Yours sincerely" (or its American English variant, "Sincerely yours"). Earlier style closings were usually much longer, and often a complete sentence.
- I am, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,
- I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,
- I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
This form is occasionally abbreviated to
- I have, etc.
- I remain, Sir, your faithful and obedient servant,
This form is occasionally abbreviated to
- Your obt svt,
The phrase et cetera may be used in place of the remainder of the valediction, as in
- I am, etc.,
- Yours, &c.,
as well as
In modern English, highly formal valediction includes
- Sincerely, I am,
Yours sincerely or faithfully
In British English, valedictions, especially formal ones, have largely been replaced by the use of "Yours sincerely" or "Yours faithfully". "Yours sincerely" is a shorter form of the archaic "I am yours sincerely", while similarly "Yours faithfully" is a contraction of "I remain, Sir, your faithful and obedient servant". "Yours sincerely" is typically employed in English when the recipient is addressed by name (e.g. "Dear John") and is known to the sender to some degree, whereas "Yours faithfully" is used when the recipient is not addressed by name (i.e. the recipient is addressed by a phrase such as "Dear Sir/Madam") or when the recipient is not known personally by the sender. One way to remember this is the saying "S and S never go together" (for Sir and Sincerely respectively) or remembering "Sir Faithful". When the recipient's name is known, but not previously met or spoken with, some people prefer the use of the more distant Yours faithfully, at the risk of annoying the recipient.
In American English, "Sincerely yours" or "Sincerely" are commonly used in formal correspondence. "Faithfully yours" is rare.
Yours truly can carry either or both of two connotations: as a valediction, and by implication, as an informal reference by a person to themselves – "the speaker".
"Yours truly" is also used in professional correspondence when writing to a client by his name, but signing the letter in the name of the firm where neither "Yours faithfully" or "Yours sincerely" would be appropriate e.g. Dear Mr. Brown ................Yours truly, Polaski & Jones
Commonly appearing in the US as "Yours truly," or "Yours very truly," use in the UK was an indication that the recipient was of a higher status than the signatory. "Very truly yours" is the shorter, modern form of "I am very truly yours", with "yours" indicating something like "your servant". In the Spanish language, there is a similar formal closing for letters that translates roughly as "I am your sure servant". For those who pay attention to old-fashioned manners, "Sincerely yours" was regarded as appropriate only for social correspondence, and not business correspondence, while such closings as "Cordially" or "Best regards" (which one does indeed find) are always inappropriate for business letters to strangers, and their use may be considered silly and uninformed by the recipient.
- "Yours truly made the cake" – a more affected, tongue-in-cheek way of saying "I made the cake".
- "If yours truly hadn't been sick that day..."
In this manner, one may sarcastically refer to a third person present in the conversation:
- "Everything was going fine before yours truly, here, showed up..."
"Yours aye" is a Scottish expression meaning "yours always", and is occasionally used by sailors or people working in a maritime context. It can also be used as an email sign off meaning "your friend".
"Yours hopefully" is occasionally used in letters of respect or complaint.
Used historically for abbreviated endings. Can be found in older newspaper letters to the editor, and often in US legal correspondence. "&c." may be seen instead of "etc." (see et cetera).
In Jane Austen books, some letters are signed Yours, etc. or Yours Sincerely, etc.
The following table contains complimentary closings as recommended for business hard letter use by two authorities: Barron's Educational Series and American Management Association. (For United States military useage see Section 1.1.7.)
|CLOSING||RECOMMENDED USE and AUTHORITY|
|Yours truly,||“formal closing”(Barron’s); “no personal connection between writer and recipient” (AMACOM)|
|Very truly yours,||“no personal connection between writer and recipient” (AMACOM)|
|Respectfully yours,||“formal closing” (Barron’s); to person of acknowledged authority or “great formality” (AMACOM)|
|Sincerely, or Sincerely yours,||“less formal closing” (Barron’s); personal and business relationship (AMACOM)|
|Cordially,||“less formal closing” (Barron’s)|
|Cordially yours,||often used, but it is “incorrect” (AMACOM)|
|Regards, Personal regards, Kindest regards,||“personal closing” (Barron’s)|
United States military
Current regulations of the United States Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force call for two complimentary closings for letters: “Respectfully yours” and “Sincerely.” “Respectfully yours” is reserved for the President, except the Army includes the President’s spouse, and the President-elect. “Sincerely” is used in all other cases.
The Commander of the Navy’s school in the military’s “Mustang University” stated his preference, in 2014, that the older “Very respectfully” be used in letters to someone senior in paygrade or positional authority. However, the Commander acknowledged that current regulations call for “Sincerely” and told students that they were free to follow that practice.
Other less formal expressions exist, often some variant of Best wishes such as All my best or, simply, Best. For family members or intimates, an expression such as Your friend, Your loving son or (in the case of lovers) Your Albert may be used; or the name may simply be preceded with All my love or Love. "Yours fraternally" is a frequently used valediction in the Labour movement.
Less commonly, other adverbs or adverbial phrases may be used, in keeping with the tone of the letter, such as In solidarity or Fraternally.
Christian clergy often use Yours in Christ, Sincerely in Christ, or Yours sincerely in Christ.
In English, all the above closings capitalise the first word and end in a comma, e.g. "Yours sincerely,".
Valedictions in e-mail
Valedictions in formal e-mail are similar to valedictions in letters: on the whole, they are variations of "regards" and "yours". However, a wide range of popular valedictions are used in casual e-mail but very rarely in letters. These include:
- Keep in touch
- Take care
- All the best
- Be well
- High Five
- Sincere Regards (or s/r)
- HTH (meaning: hope this helps, happy to help)
- TTFN (meaning: Ta Ta For Now)
- Flying High
E-mail messages, especially those used for very brief communication, are commonly signed off without valedictions, these being replaced by automatically appended signature texts. Some are not signed at all, since a sender's name is usually provided in the message headers.
Standard French language valedictions tend to be much more complex than standard English ones, more akin to older English valedictions. They show a fair degree of variation, for example:
- Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l'expression de mes sentiments distingués.
- "Please accept, Madam, Sir, the expression of my distinguished sentiments."
- Veuillez recevoir, Madame, mes sincères salutations.
- "Please receive, Madam, my sincere salutations."
- Je vous prie de croire, Monsieur, à mes sentiments les meilleurs.
- "I beg you to believe, Sir, in my best sentiments."
In the latter case of a formula beginning with the first person, the valediction is often enhanced with a participial phrase concluding the sense of the letter (since traditionally it is not considered appropriate to begin a paragraph with the first person singular je in a letter):
- Espérant recevoir une réponse favorable, je vous prie d'agréer, Madame…
- "Hoping for a favourable answer, I beg you to allow, Madam…"
A number of rules concern the use of these formulae:
- the title used in the salutation of the letter must be reproduced in the valediction; so a letter addressing Madame la députée would conclude, Veuillez, Madame la députée.
- the wording recevoir l'assurance should be used in a letter from a hierarchical superior to an inferior, whereas the wording agréer l'expression should be used in a letter from a hierarchical inferior to a superior, and not conversely.
- in a letter from a man to a woman or from a woman to a man, the writer must not send sentiments if they are not close family relatives (i.e. mother and son, father and daughter, brother and sister, or possibly close cousins).
Such formulae may be used even in more friendly letters, often with the adjective cher or chère for the recipient. Letters to dignitaries may use even more grandiose styles, such as:
- Daignez, Monsieur le Premier ministre, agréer l'expression de ma considération très distinguée.
- "Deign, Mr. Prime Minister, to allow the expression of my most distinguished consideration."
or more commonly:
- Veuillez agréer, Monsieur le Premier ministre, l'expression de ma très haute considération.
- "Please accept, Mr. Prime Minister, the expression of my highest consideration."
According to French typographic rules, the proper capitalization for the official title is "Premier ministre" although people who mimic English titles or fear that they might appear disrespectful often use more capitals than the rules commend.
- Veuillez agréer, Madame l'Ambassadeur, l'expression de mes salutations les plus respectueuses.
- "Please allow, Madam Ambassador, the expression of my most respectful salutations."
Another French typographic rule states that when addressing someone, styles like Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle, should never be abbreviated, even if followed by a title (hence, writing M. le Premier Ministre or Mme l'Ambassadeur would be considered clumsy).
Much shorter styles may be used in brief notes (Sincères salutations), and informal letters (such as between intimates) may use expressions such as (with approximate English equivalents – not literal translations):
- Amicalement ("In friendship")
- Amitiés ("Your friend")
- À bientôt ("See you soon")
- Au plaisir de vous revoir ("Hope to see you again soon")
- Bien amicalement ("In Good Friendship")
- Bien à vous ("Sincerely yours")
- Cordialement ("Cordially")
- Meilleures salutations ("Best Salutations")
- Salutations distinguées ("With Distinguished Salutations")
Unlike in English, when the letter writer has a title that is unique in his or her organization, it is placed before, not after, the name:
- Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur, mes sincères salutations.
- La vice-présidente des ressources humaines,
Formal letters in Hebrew often end with "b'chavod (rav*)" (Hebrew: בכבוד *רב, lit: with (great*) honor) or somewhat less formal "bivracha" (Hebrew: בברכה, lit: with blessing). The informal ones may use "kol tov" (Hebrew: כל טוב, lit: all the best). For an intimate, you might end a letter or email with "mitga'ageah" (m) or "mitga'aga'at" (f) -- missing you. Jews in the United States often use "B'shalom" or "shalom" (Hebrew: בשלום, lit: in peace) within Jewish circles, for example, from a Rabbi to his congregation. This is an American Jewish usage, rarely heard from native speakers of Hebrew. "B'shalom" is incorrect, as it is religiously tantamount to wishing death on someone. Indeed, the Talmud says: "In bidding farewell to the living one should not say, 'Go with peace' [lech b'shalom], but 'Go to peace' [lech l'shalom], because [King] David said to [his son] Absalom, 'Go with peace', and he went and was hanged; whereas Jethro said to Moses, 'Go to peace', and he went and succeeded." [Talmud, Moed Katan 29a]
Valedictions in German, while a lot less complex than those in French, are similarly flexible. The highly formal form Hochachtungsvoll (lit. "highly respectfully") has been practically obsolete for many years and is very rarely used in modern German, except for highly formal correspondence from authorities or in letters with a highly negative connotation where "friendliness" would not be appropriate.
The standard business valediction is Mit freundlichen Grüßen (lit. "with friendly regards") and is equivalent to Yours sincerely or Yours faithfully in English. A more seldom used variant of this is Mit freundlichem Gruß, which is as above but in the singular form. Other semi-formal alternatives include (roughly in descending order of formality) Mit besten Grüßen (lit. "with best regards"), Beste Grüße, Mit herzlichen Grüßen (lit. "with cordial regards"), Viele Grüße (lit. "many regards"), Schöne Grüße (lit. "nice regards").
German valedictions also offer the possibility of adding your location, e.g. Mit freundlichen Grüßen aus Berlin to added effect. While this is no less formal, it does have a more "relaxed" feel to it. Other less formal location-centric variations are also possible, such as Viele Grüße aus dem sonnigen Barcelona (lit. "many regards from sunny Barcelona").
These valedictions are also often adapted to specific professions, states or political views. For example, it is common to use Mit solidarischen Grüßen ("with regards in solidarity") among socialist and communist groups, Mit gewerkschaftlichen Grüßen (lit. "with union regards") or Mit kollegialen Grüßen (lit. "with cooperative regards") among labour union members, Mit kameradschaftlichen Grüßen (lit. "with comradely regards") among military personnel, Mit sportlichen Grüßen ("with sporting regards") among sportspeople, and Mit gebärdenfreundlichen Grüßen ("with friendly regards in sign language") among persons hard of hearing.
More familiar valedictions in German follow the same formula. Alles Liebe or (Viele) liebe Grüße are common in German for friends or family. Friends or close colleagues among each other may use simply Gruß.
It is possible in informal and rapid e-mail communication to sometimes use abbreviations of the forms, unlike in English. In this way, Mit freundlichen Grüßen may be shortened to MfG and Liebe Grüße may be shortened to LG. A popular form in Germany in recent years, hdl (habe dich lieb, lit. "am fond of you") and hdgdl (habe dich ganz doll lieb, lit. "am very fond of you", for somewhere between "I like you" and "I love you") has found increased usage in SMS text messaging and e-mails in more intimate relationships.
Formal valedictions should end with a comma followed by a paragraph where the valedictor's name (and optionally his status) is identified. Depending on the occasion, different degrees of formality are adequate, ranging from highly formal (e.g. solemn occasions) to totally informal (e.g. a conversation among friends). Some formal valedictions can be used at different formality degrees, but almost never in informal situations.
Highly formal valedictions
- Com os melhores cumprimentos ("With the best compliments")
- Respeitosamente ("Respectfully")
- Reverentemente ("Reverently")
- Com protestos da mais elevada estima e consideração ("With protestations of the highest esteem and consideration")
- Atenciosamente ("Graciously")
- Atentamente ("Attentively")
- Saudações académicas ("Academic salutations", very common within Portuguese universities)
- Cordialmente ("Cordially")
- Com amizade ("With friendship")
- Cumprimentos ("Regards")
- Saudações cordiais ("Cordial salutations")
- Abraço ("a hug", usually between men), also Abraços ("hugs"). Some common variants include Forte Abraço ("Strong hug") and Grande Abraço ("Big hug")
- Até já ("see you soon"), also Até depois and Até logo ("see you later")
- Beijo ("a kiss", usually between women or between woman and man), also Beijos ("kisses") and Grande Beijo ("big kiss")
- Beijinho (literally "a kisslet", very common especially between female and male friends), also Beijinhos (literally "kisslets")
- Muitas saudades ("I miss you verily")
- Seu / Sua ("Yours": male/female valedictor)
- Tudo de bom ("All the best")
Abbreviated valedictions (informal)
- Abr, Abc, Abç abbreviated form of Abraço ("hug") or Abraços ("hugs")
- Bj, abbreviated forms of Beijo ("kiss") or Beijinho ("kisslet"), also Bjs ("many kisses/kisslets")
- Cumps. abbreviated form of Cumprimentos ("Regards")
- С уважением (Respectfully yours)
- С наилучшими пожеланиями (Best regards)
- С комсомольским приветом! (With Komsomol greetings) / Informal|joking
- Искренне Ваш (Sincerely yours)
- Ваш (yours)
- Ваш покорный слуга (Yours obedient servant)
- Примите заверения в моём самом искреннем уважении и почтении (diplomatic etiquette)
- До скорой всречи (See you soon)
- Saludos (Regards)
- Atentamente (literally "attentively", a very common business valediction similar to "respectfully")
- Cordialmente ("cordially")
- Amablemente (literally "amiably", similar to "kindly")
- Amorosamente ("lovingly", not commonly used in Spain)
- Tiernamente ("tenderly", not commonly used in Spain)
- Un cordial saludo ("cordial greetings")
- Reciba un cordial saludo ("receive cordial greetings")
- Un abrazo ("a hug", very common between male friends and male family members)
- Abrazos ("hugs")
- Un beso ("a kiss", very common to and from female friends and family members)
- Besos ("kisses")
- Tisztelettel: Very formal, means "with regards".
- Üdvözlettel: Somewhat formal, assumes existing relationship. Often used between colleagues. Literally means "greetings".
- Üdv: An informal form of "Üdvözlettel". Very frequently used in e-mails.
- Puszi: Means "kiss on the cheek". Often used within family or between girlfriends.
- Pussz or Pusszantyú: Non-dictionary forms of "Puszi".
- Pusszantás: Even though is literally means "Puszi", it is considered as a funny and a bit rude form of "Üdv".
- Csók: Means "kiss on mouth". Used between couples only.
- Csókolom or Kezit csókolom: It is actually a greeting of elderly people, sometimes also used as valediction. In the first half of the 20th century it was also used to greet or say good-bye to young ladies. Literally means "kisses on the hand".
- Csóközön: Literally means "flood of kisses". It is definitely not to be meant literally. It is rather considered as a funny form of "Üdv".
- Cső: Literally means "pipe". Probably a derivate of Italian ciao. Very informal valediction.
- Csőváz, Csá, Csákány: Very informal variants of "Cső".
- Pá or Pá-pá: Toddler word used when waving with hands. Rarely used by adults.
- Högaktningsfullt (Highly respectfully – Old style and very formal, no longer in common use)
- Med vänlig hälsning (With friendly regard – Common in business letters)
- or: Med vänliga hälsningar (With friendly regards)
- in informal emails often written: Mvh
- or: Vänligen (Kindly)
- Hjärtliga hälsningar (Cordially – somewhat formal among friends, informal in business letters)
- Kram (Hug – informal, between friends)
- Keigu (敬具 - Sincerely)
- Haikei (拝啓 - Respectfully)
- Kashiko (かしこ - With great humility)
- Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology. Great Britain: Oxford University Press. 1996. p. 519.
- Complimentary close on The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition.
- Valediction – Definition from The Free Dictionary.
- Valediction Dictionary.co.uk.
- Scheyder, Elizabeth (2003). "The Use of Complimentary Closings in E-mail: American English Examples". Working Papers in Educational Linguistics 19 (1): 27–42. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
- Commonly still used in the Royal Navy "Walking down the street, opening doors and wearing hats at weddings", The Sunday Times.
- Alan Bond, 300+ Successful Business Letters for All Occasions, 2nd Edition (Barron's Educational Series, 2005), 7.
- James Stroman, Kevin Wilson, Jennifer Wauson, Administrative Assistant's and Secretary's Handbook, 5th Edition (AMACOM: American Management Association, 2014), 299.
- Department of Defense: Manual for Written Material: Correspondence Management, DoDM 5110.04-M-V1, October 26, 2010, 67 online at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/511004m_v1.pdf. Joint Chiefs of Staff: JOINT STAFF GUIDE, DOM/SJS, JS Guide 5711, April 2013 “EDITORIAL GUIDANCE AND ACCEPTED USAGE FOR JOINT STAFF CORRESPONDENCE” Enclosure K, K-1 to K-10, online at http://www.dtic.mil/cjcs_directives/jdata/unlimit/g571101.pdf. Army: Army Regulation 25–50, Preparing and Managing Correspondence (6 July 2015), online at http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r25_50.pdf. Navy: SECNAV Manual M-216.5, March 2010, APPENDIX B, CIVILIAN MODELS OF ADDRESS, B1-B10 online at http://www.sc.edu/nrotc/content/Documents/SECNAVINST%205216.5.pdf. Air Force: AIR FORCE HANDBOOK 33-337, 27 MAY 2015 “Communications and Information” THE TONGUE AND QUILL, 197-213 online at http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/saf_cio_a6/publication/afh33-337/afh33-337.pdf. All accessed September 8, 2015
- Officer Training Command: Home of the Navy OCS at http://www.ocs.navy.mil/staff/welcome.asp. Accessed October 8, 2015.
- The Mustang Lariat, July 2014, LDO AND CWO Officer Community Managers Newsletter, USN, online at http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/officer/communitymanagers/ldo_cwo/Documents/June%202014%20Lariat.pdf. Accessed October 8, 2015.
- Ecclesiastical Forms of Address in The National Catholic Church of America (NCCA) online at http://www.nccofa.org/formadd.html. Accessed October 10, 2015.
- Judith Kallos, “Email Sign-off Considerations” in Email Etiquette online at http://www.netmanners.com/673/email-sign-off-considerations/. Accessed October 10, 2015.
- Rechtsextremistische Subkulturen.
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