To whom it may concern: When to use it and when to avoid It

When you use the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” it can make you sound ancient and offensive. It’s an outdated salutation that sounds out of place in this century.

Milena Lazova
Milena Lazova

When you use the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” it can make you sound ancient and offensive. It’s an outdated salutation that sounds out of place in this century. In fact, using it in the wrong situations can leave a negative impression on the person receiving the letter or email.

Yet, it’s completely appropriate to use it in a few situations, so let’s find out more about it.

When to avoid it

In most situations, sending an email or letter with the greeting “To Whom It May Concern” can indicate laziness or a lack of concern to spend some time researching the person you need to reach.

Whether that’s a hiring manager, co-worker, or subscriber, addressing your letter or email properly can show that you cared enough to find the relevant person.

So, here are a few better options you may want to consider.

To whom it may concern alternatives

1.Dear (Mr. Mrs. Ms. Miss) (Last Name)

Use this simple greeting if you’re sending a cover letter or writing directly to someone.

Example:

Dear Mr. Ben Smith

2.Dear (Department) or Dear (Role)

If you can’t find the contact name, the least you can do is address the person’s role or the correct department.

Example:

Dear Accounting Department / Dear Office Manager

3.Greetings or Hello

This salutation is great for messages addressed to many people, such as newsletters or meeting announcements.

Example:

Greetings, sales team.

When to use it

This outdated salutation is appropriate for emails or letters when you don’t know who will read it, such as:

·         Letters of recommendation

·         Letters of interest

·         Letters of introduction

·         Formal complaints lodged with a business

Example:

To Whom It May Concern:
I’m writing to recommend Miss. Lora Smith for the open position as an IT technician in your company.

To whom it may concern – Capitalized or not?

If you are going to use this phrase, make sure you always capitalize it and add a colon and space after it, before writing the first paragraph.

Some more examples:

Up in the Air (2009)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Coming to America (1988)
EnglishIdioms & expressions

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.


Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.