April 1, 2019 All, English Grammar, Sneaky Grammar

Hello ‘dear’ John – Sneaky Grammar #3

Brand Customer

The third episode of Sneaky Grammar by Writesaver covers another seemingly simple grammar mistake. Most mistakes are merely embarrassing, but some can actually change the meaning of your sentence. In this episode, we’ll go over using ‘Dear’ as a greeting.

“Dear John,” is a formal greeting, perfectly suited for a business email. Using it after another greeting, however, will create a misunderstanding. For example, if you write “Hello dear John,” it will confuse your reader. At best, they will assume your English is lacking, which is bad enough. However, ‘dear’ is a term of endearment, and by reading it after the greeting they might assume you’re trying to be romantic.

Best greetings

Your greeting is the first thing a client or co-worker will read. It’s important that it reflects the intent of the email you’re sending. We already know that “Hello dear,” is not really an option. Let’s go over the right choices. If you want a casual greeting used to start a regular conversation, you can go with “Hi John,”. Now, if you’re looking for something even more casual, you can use “Hey John,”.

When you want to convey formality, you can use “Dear John,” or “Hello John,”. Separately, those are the best formal greetings you can use for your message. Just make sure not to use them together and you’ll be golden.

Worst Greetings

Besides “Hello dear John” there are other greetings you should stay away from. They might not be as confusing, but they are still among the worst ways you can open a business email. “Greetings of the day,” is a popular mistake by non-native English speakers, but it’s not used by fluent speakers of English. You should also stay away from “Greetings,” outside of the holiday season, because it just sounds strange. Other bad calls are “Dear friend,” and “John!” (why are you shouting at John?).

To make this easier, we prepared the following infographic with the best and worst ways to open a bussiness email.


Business email salutations


If you found this episode helpful don’t forget to share it. Sneaky Grammar will back soon with a new common misunderstanding for you to avoid.  

Do you have an idea for a great Sneaky Grammar episode? Email us at with the subject “Sneaky Grammar” or tweet your suggestion with #SneakyGrammar.


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