I am an undergrad student and I always get/send emails that start with "Respected Sir/Madam", or, "Dear Sir/Madam". But, I always wondered how I can be more gender-inclusive. "To whom it may concern" sounds a little bit old-schooled. So, is there any modern phrase to help me out with this problem? Thank you very much.

  • 1
    To be clear, are you talking about emails where you actually do not know the name, title or gender of the person you are addressing? Any correspondence addressed to "Respected Sir/Madam" is probably automated, with the same thing sent out to lots of people.
    – kaya3
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 8:50
  • @kaya3 Yes. I intend to talk about email with no specific name as a recipient.
    – Sameeek
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 9:49
  • 1
    Questions about common English phrases should be closed as off topic, but I voted to close as duplicate because this question seems to be an imitation of another recent question. Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 16:52
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    Please name a country, as this would be a very odd phrase to use in the US. Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 18:19

2 Answers 2


I would suggest either using the person's name if sending to one person and when sending to a group, the group's names i.e Dear Search Committee or Dear Students as appropriate. Anything else looke like you haven't done any research on who you are sending the email to.

Being specific in the name also helps the person reading the email to know why they got it, i.e Dear students of physics 101 . Lets me as a reader know why I got the email ( i.e as a member of that course)

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    'Anything else looks like you haven't done any research on who you are sending the email to' Or like you've attempted that research unsuccessfully, perhaps because an organisation is secretive about who's responsible for correspondence on a particular topic. Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 20:36
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    If you are writing a secretive organization then maybe you should be worried about other aspects of the situation before you try to determine its gender.
    – Dan
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 1:50

If you're emailing a man and refer to him as such by using "Sir" or "Mister" there's nothing conceivably wrong with that.

If you don't know who you're emailing, then you can't go wrong with "to whom it may concern" (just because it's dated doesn't mean it's bad, although it's more formal) but since you insisted on other greetings, the following also work:

  • "Dear [Last Name]/[Name of group]/[first name]" works very well for first-time correspondence, and works equally well if you're well acquainted with the person(s) you're emailing
  • "Hello, I hope this email finds you well" is good when you don't know who you're writing to
  • The standard "Good afternoon/morning/..." are good if it's a slightly less formal setting
  • "Greetings, [name]" is one that's hard to misuse

I'll also add that, being a young adult, I'm rather flattered when people refer to me as "sir" or "mister."

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