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Dear Sir or Dear sir?



 
ESL Forums | English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms
Changing or not changing times in reported speech | Using gerund phrase
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #1 (permalink) Wed Jul 06, 2016 16:58 pm   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

Isn't it necessary for the second word in each of the following to begin with a capital as shown? I have also seen people use a small letter in both formal and informal contexts. What do you say, Alan?
Dear Sir
Dear Madam
Dear Friend
Dear Father
Dear Brother etc
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #2 (permalink) Wed Jul 06, 2016 17:56 pm   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

Certainly the first two examples require a capital. As for the others, it depends on the context. I cannot imagine anyone writing 'Dear Friend' in place of someone's name.
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #3 (permalink) Thu Jul 07, 2016 16:15 pm   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

What context? Elucidate if you can.
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #4 (permalink) Thu Jul 07, 2016 20:17 pm   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

Do you really need me to explain?

Father - if used as the title of a religious leader would require a capital letter. So would Brother if used as the title of a religious man (monk) or a Freemason and similarly 'sister' if used of a nun would require a capital.

With regard to using any of them to address members of your own family, it would be down to individual preference and how formal a situation it is, though quite frankly I can't imagine anyone using 'father' when people around the world have less formal terms of endearment for their male parent and I cannot see why anyone would want to use 'brother', sister' or 'friend' in place of the person's name at all if speaking to a family member!
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Re: Dear Sir or Dear sir? #5 (permalink) Fri Jul 08, 2016 3:56 am   Re: Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

[quote="Anglophile"]Isn't it necessary for the second word in each of the following to begin with a capital as shown? I don't think so.
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #6 (permalink) Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:20 am   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

Quote:
Do you really need me to explain? (This is a meaningless, avoidable question)
Though there is some substance in what you say to which I may agree, the practice is different here. India regards this maxim: Mata, Pita, Guru and Deva meaning, as you can guess from the Latin roots in three of them, mother, father, teacher and god respectively. This indicates the order of respect/importance accorded to each. In a country like India, where more than three fourths makes up non-Christian population, your theory of usage can hardly find a place. So people may address their own fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and so on with a capital out of reverence.

But then, a question arises as to why 'Sir' and 'Madam' should begin with a capital. What reason can be attributable to that practice?

Indian culture is not in favour of using just names for elderly persons or older members of the family since doing so is tantamount to disrespect. Cultural preferences and practices play a vital role when we are addressing each other in India.

In some Indian languages we address a friend as 'dear friend' and write it as Dear Friend', and if it is a circular letter/appeal, we use Dear Friends/Comrades/Colleagues and so on. The practice, which is a fact, may look strange to others particularly native English users, though.

The question I raised was based on my own observation, and I wanted to know if there was any grammatical obligation to write those phrases so while addressing others.

Now, Canadian, I'd say I presume that you think no capital is necessary in the second word in each (including Sir and Madam) of those phrases. If so, that also would ensure uniformity.
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #7 (permalink) Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:40 am   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

All that is exactly why I said it depends on individual context. That is what I would class as a specific context. It does not follow that the same is widespread in other countries. These forums are not in India. They do not have such boundaries. It is rather pointless asking your question if you do not want an answer which applies outside India.
Anglophile wrote:
But then, a question arises as to why 'Sir' and 'Madam' should begin with a capital. What reason can be attributable to that practice?

Because those forms of address are only used in formal situations.
Anglophile wrote:
The question I raised was based on my own observation, and I wanted to know if there was any grammatical obligation to write those phrases so while addressing others.

The answer was given in message #2.
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #8 (permalink) Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:17 am   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

Quote:
Though there is some substance in what you say to which I may agree, the practice is different here.
We needn't prolong this conversation now. Let me see if there are other answers. I'd also like to hear what Alan, to whom I addressed my question, has to say in addition to your and Canadian's comments.
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #9 (permalink) Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:57 am   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

All I would ask is that forum users should exercise tolerance - a feature that is sadly lacking here these days.
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Dear Sir or Dear sir? #10 (permalink) Sat Jul 09, 2016 22:03 pm   Dear Sir or Dear sir?
 

Thank you Anglophile. Your question was mine as well.
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