Difference Between Sincerely and Faithfully

Main Difference

The main difference between sincerely and faithfully is that the adverb sincerely is used if the recipient is addressed and known by the name and the adverb faithfully is used if the name of the recipient is not known.

Sincerely vs. Faithfully

Sincerely and faithfully are the two adverbs. They are often used as complementary endings in formal or informal emails or letters. Sincerely is the complimentary close to using at the end when you know the name and title of the recipient. The adverb faithfully is used when you do not know the name of the recipient. Sincerely means in a genuine and sincere manner. Faithfully means in a loyal manner. ‘Yours sincerely’ is used in both formal and friendly letters. ‘Yours faithfully’ is used in formal and business letters and emails. ‘Yours sincerely’ is used with the salutations like ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms’/Miss followed by the name of the person. ‘Yours faithfully’ is used with the salutation like ‘Dear Madam,’ or ‘Dear Sir.’ Yours sincerely is used when writing to a person you know or have spoken or met before. It is necessary for the sender to address the recipient by his first name, sign the letter ‘Yours sincerely’ and write his name in the signature. For example, you can write ‘Dear Miss Ellie Watson’ in the salutation,’ and in the complimentary close, you can write ‘Yours sincerely, John Smith. Faithfully is used when writing to a person whom you have not met or you do not know. If you are writing to such a person, address them as Dear Sir or Dear Madam and sign the letter as ‘yours faithfully.’ Your initials and surname follow it. In this case, the salutation would be ‘Dear Madam,’ and the complimentary close would be ‘Yours faithfully, M. S. Smith.’

Comparison Chart

SincerelyFaithfully
Used when the recipient is known and addressed by the nameUsed when the adverb faithfully is used if the name of the recipient is not known
Contraction Of
I am yours sincerelyI remain your faithful and obedient servant
Context
When the writer knows about the name of the recipientWhen the writer does not know the name of the recipient
Usage
AmericanBritish

What is Sincerely?

The letters include complimentary closes in their basic format. Sincerely is the complimentary close to using at the end of the letter. It is used when you know the name and title of the recipient. The type of closing is usually dependent on factors such as formality of the correspondence and the sender recipient relationship. The adverb sincerely means in a genuine and sincere manner. It is used in both formal and friendly letters. ‘Yours sincerely’ is used with the salutation like ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms’/Miss followed by the name of the person. ‘Yours sincerely’ is a shortened term for archaic “I am yours sincerely” that was originally used in old British correspondence. Now, the term is common in America. It is widely used in a formal letter wherein the author knows the name of the respondent. For example, if a letter starts with Dear Mr. Santos would conclude with ‘Yours sincerely.’ It is necessary for the sender to address the recipient by his first name, sign the letter ‘Yours sincerely,’ and use his first name in the signature. For example, in the salutation, you can write ‘Dear Miss Ellie Watson,’ and in the complimentary close, you can write ‘Yours sincerely, John Smith. You can also write this phrase as ‘Sincerely yours.’

Example

  • Opening: Dear Michael Anderson
  • Closing: Yours sincerely

What is Faithful?

Faithfully is another adverb that is used commonly informal letters and emails. Faithfully means in a loyal manner. This adverb faithfully is used when you do not know the name of the recipient. ‘Yours faithfully’ is used in the business and formal letters and emails. Its use is common informal letters. ‘Yours faithfully’ is used with the salutation like ‘Dear Madam,’ or ‘Dear Sir.’ Faithfully is used when you are writing to someone whom you have not met, or you do not know. If you are writing to such a person, address them as Dear Sir or Dear Madam and sign the letter as ‘yours faithfully.’ Your initials and surname follow it. In this case, the salutation would be ‘Dear Madam,’ and the complimentary close would be ‘Yours faithfully, M. S. Smith.’ ‘Yours faithfully’ is used when the writer wants to maintain a formal distance from the recipient and also to emphasize that the correspondence is a matter of duty. (Cambridge Guide to English Usage) However, this usage is less commonly used and is declining gradually. ‘Yours faithfully’ is a short term for “I remain your faithful and obedient servant.” It is used in a formal letter where the author does not know or acknowledge the name of the recipient. For example, a letter starting with Dear Madam or Dear Sir would conclude with ‘Yours faithfully.’ It can also be written as Faithfully yours.

Example

  • To whom it may concern,
  • Dear sir/madam,
  • Dear HR Manager/ Dear Managing Director, etc.

Key Differences

  1. Sincerely is the complimentary close to using at the end when you know the name and title of the recipient whereas faithfully is used when you do not know the name of the recipient.
  2. Sincerely means in a genuine and sincere manner. On the other hand, faithfully means loyally.
  3. ‘Yours sincerely’ is used in both formal and friendly letters conversely ‘Yours faithfully’ is mainly used in formal letters.
  4. ‘Yours sincerely’ is used with the salutation like ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms’/Miss followed by the name of the person on the other hand ‘Yours faithfully’ is used with the salutation ‘Dear Madam,’ or ‘Dear Sir.’

Conclusion

Sincerely and faithfully are the adverbs mostly used in the body of the letters and emails as their valediction or the complimentary closing. Both are the expressions to say farewell or bid the reader goodbye. But they are different in their usage.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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