LawProse Lesson #95

LawProse Lesson #95

Is it acceptable to close a letter with Sincerely as opposed to Sincerely yours? ANSWER: Yes, it is. For many decades, a majority of U.S. Supreme Court Justices have signed off their letters in precisely this way. The very question may surprise you, but in the late 1980s a writer for ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association) took the staunch public position that anyone who used Sincerely alone as a complimentary close was committing a solecism. For a lengthy and humorous exchange between Bryan A. Garner, Charles Alan Wright, and that ALI-ABA writer, see Garner on Language and Writing 529-40 (2009). The argument that it is incorrect to use Sincerely alone ignores the fact that yours is understood in the complimentary close. If yours must always be included with Sincerely, then it would also be required with such closings as cordially, fondly, and respectfully. The idea that these closings, which have long been elliptically phrased, are incorrect without yours is a linguistic superstition that must be closed. Without compliment. Sources: Garner on Language and Writing 529-40 (2009). The Elements of Legal Style 97-98 (2d ed. 2002).

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