How to begin email: Dear or Hi?

16 posts in this topic

Posted

Today I had the first contact with my prospective advisor. I emailed to him to ask some questions about his group, before I make my final decision about joining the program. In his reply he asked me to call him by his firstname. So, how should I start my email: "Hi [firstname]," or "Dear [firstname],"? He always starts his emails with "Hi [firstname],".

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Posted

I'd just follow his lead.

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Posted

Either way is fine; if you want to be a little more formal, go with "dear". That used to feel strange to me until a former boss kindly pointed out that using "dear" in the address didn't mean I was actually calling someone dear!

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Posted

I've been using 'Dear Dr [last name]' in all correspondence with potential advisors until I asked them directly what they prefer. Most of them prefer first name so I follow their preference.

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Posted (edited)

I think "Hi" is most appropriate if you've communicated before and you're on a first name basis.

If someone uses "Hi" when addressing me, I always use "Hi" in my reply. I understand your concern, though -- I always start off "Dear X," to be formal, with their last name if I'm sure of their gender and their first name if I'm not.

Edited by Jae B.

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Posted

I always use dear, unless of course it's a close friend (kind of ironic, now that I think about it). Whenever I receive a letter or email that addresses me with "Dear," I never get creeped out or think it's too formal. It's quite clear that the person is just following standard letter format! I always use "Dear Dr./Professor X" in my emails, and they respond to me with "Dear [Firstname]." This even applies to back-and-forth emails.

The way I see it, using "Dear" is always the safest way to go. It's not going to offend anyone or weird them out. "Hi" and other less-formal addresses can be acceptable in many situations, but you never know when you're being too informal. If you always use "Dear," then you'll never have to face the difficult decision of how to structure your correspondences.

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Posted

Well I feel like a weirdo now.

I always just start with name and then the email. Like:

Dr. So-and-so,

Blah blah blah

- My Name

email, etc.

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Posted

To be honest, I think that as long as you address the person and don't just launch into a rude request/demand then I don't think there's any issue. But since I write so many emails these days, I guess I'm just more anal about it.

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Posted

Personally, I hate that emails have become formal enough to require a salutation. Reading or writing "Dear" in one creeps me out. I don't particularly like signing them, either. I guess I'm in the minority, though.

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Posted

When I write to my current professors, in Sweden, I either just write "Hi", sometimes with their nickname. Never during my 5 years have I called a professor "Dr." or even by their last name, in writing or in person.

But when I establish first contact with people in the states I do "Dear Dr. last name". After an email or two I usually drop it to "Dear first name", and after one or two more I just do "First name". Noone has complained or commented on it so far :)

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Posted (edited)

I usually go the route of:

Prof. ______,

blah blah blah

-me

or

Hey Prof. ______, (If i know them well)

blah blah blah

-me

I would much rather use "hey" than "hi" or "hello", but that's just me, for some reason I feel as though "hey" is still a little more proper/formal than "hi" or "hello"...

Also, if the professor ends their email with their first name, then I feel as though its okay to thereafter email them beginning with their first name.. but never until they break the formalities first. ha.

Edited by Jus10

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Posted (edited)

I use Dear Professor ---, until it's obvious a lower level of formality is appropriate, which usually comes for me after knowing them for a while. But for older Professors I still use the more formal address even after I get to know them better because I think many of them like to see that. In fact, maybe I fabricated this in my imagination, but I feel like one older professor has responded quite positively to me partially because I am very polite and deferential towards him while some other students just treat him as if he is from their peer group. He is so nice that he would never say anything about it, but I think he appreciates the respect that some formality reflects.

Also, just because they use your first name doesn't mean you should use theirs in return-- like it or not there is still a great distinction between Professors and graduate students, which some faculty care about and some don't. But you don't really want to find out who does care in the wrong way.

Edited by Malumat

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Posted

For me, oddly, it depends on the time of day. If I'm writing in the morning I usually go with Good Morning (as I'm sure you've deduced by now tongue.gif) followed by Dr. or Professor soandso. I've also employed Hello or simply Dear. Given the way I was raised I always use Dr. or Prof and last name. I still refer to my undergrad professors (who've I've gone out to dinner with on multiple occasions) as Dr. soandso. However, I don't think they really care. I know when I read e-mails I skip the appetizer and get right to the meat.

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Posted

Sure, but if the appetizer is really weird, you would probably notice...

I personally perceive the scale of formality thus: Dear > Hello > Hi. Thinking about it, I generally don't go all the way up to Dear unless there's a clear status difference between myself and the addressee--potential employer, professor, etc. Then I end up working my way down depending on how they respond. I might steal the nice neutral 'Good Morning," though!

Weirdly enough, I was drafting a letter (not an email, a paper letter!) for my current boss the other day, and she told me to change the "Dear" to "Hi" because, "I want to stay pretty formal with these people." Wha?

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Posted

Weirdly enough, I was drafting a letter (not an email, a paper letter!) for my current boss the other day, and she told me to change the "Dear" to "Hi" because, "I want to stay pretty formal with these people." Wha?

Hmm. Maybe they literally interpret "Dear" as intimate, as in "dearest" or something. In that case, I guess a solid, respectable "Hi" would be more formal!

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Posted

Sure, but if the appetizer is really weird, you would probably notice...

Weirdly enough, I was drafting a letter (not an email, a paper letter!) for my current boss the other day, and she told me to change the "Dear" to "Hi" because, "I want to stay pretty formal with these people." Wha?

You are absolutely right. If the appetizer began with something like "Sup, dawg/homie/homeskillet" or any other form of (I think hilarious) entries, one would notice. But I would hope most profs are mellow enough to not be offended if an email that began with hello, dear or hi.

I'm sorry your boss wanted you to be so formal with "Hi." tongue.gif. That is just supremely good comedy.

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