Posted by: episystechpubs | May 28, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Dear John

Good morning, all. I was looking through one of my books by Grammar Girl (aka Mignon Fogarty) and I saw this interesting tidbit on salutations. From Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, p. 139, there is a reminder on the correct punctuation of a standard letter greeting.

Dear John, (correct)

Hi, John (correct)

Hi John, (common usage but not technically correct)

I think most of us are aware of those, but the part that really captured my interest was the section on other salutations.

The plural of Mister (Mr.) is Messieurs (Messrs.). It is common to use abbreviations when writing a letter, so if you were writing to multiple men, this is the correct way to format your salutation: Dear Messrs. Affleck and Pitt.

The plural of Mrs. is Mmes. (short for Mesdames), and the plural of Miss is Misses. The plural of Ms., which originated in the 1950s, is less clear. Various sources report that the plural of Ms. can be Mses., Mss., or Mmes.

In American English, a period is required after the abbreviations; in British English, no punctuation is required after the abbreviations.

Of course, this makes me wonder what you call a mix of these. For example, if I’m a Ms. and my husband is a Mr., what would we be together? Those of you who know us might say that the appropriate solution is: Dear Mess. Church and Pennisi. I think you might be right!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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