There is no problem with using “Hello” or “Hi” in writing your business email. Business writing is about writing as you would speak. Effective business writing is about building rapport. Hello and Hi are natural and friendly words to greet your readers in a manner that is less formal than the Dear _____, salutation you use for traditional letters. If the circumstances and the audience are appropriate, go ahead and use them.

Of course, this greeting is best used for readers you can call by their first names. Drop the formal titles of Mr., Mrs., and Ms.

The problem we normally encounter with using such greetings is the way we punctuate them.

Some people write it this way:

Hi Dennis,

They think that since this is as a substitute for Dear ___, we should follow the punctuation. Insert loud and irritating buzzer sound here to indicate it’s wrong.

The proper way to punctuate this salutation is this:

Hi, Dennis.

This follows the punctuation rule of enclosing in commas the name of the person you’re writing to. For example:

Yes, Sammy, we will meet on Saturday.

No, Carol.

So, my dear readers, hello and goodbye for now. I hope to be back here soon.


  1. Ruby Isabella said...

    That was really hard. I really wanted to put comma in. When we are speaking, we can say, "Hi Bob." Then there is a long pause, where they can say something. Or we can say, "Hi Bob, have you finished the report." There is just a short pause. So why can't we start with "Hi Bob, " on an e-mail.
    gege said...
    Hi, Ruby Isabella. The reason "Hi Bob," with a comma is wrong is because Hi, Bob. is a sentence, and as such, it needs to end with a period.
    The Literary Gift Company said...
    Thanks! I'd been wondering about the punctuation when you started an email with hello instead of dear___.
    The Literary Gift Company
    Ruth said...

    I am a first-time reader of your blog.

    As a grammar "pulis," you had committed something ungrammatical in your latest entry:

    "Hopefully I would be back here soon."

    Your use of the word "hopefully" is not warranted, as Strunk and White, and other "grammar police" would admonish anyone who dared use that vague word.

    Even your use of the word "would" is not with rhyme nor reason, as "hope" is associated with "will."

    The sentence should have been:

    "I hope I will be back here soon."
    gege said...
    First-time reader Ruth, I plead guilty to that grammar misdemeanor. I have corrected the offensive sentence. Thanks for pointing it out.
    Oman's Collective Intelligence said...
    Hi, nice blog, and very informative. Keep up the good work!!!
    Doms said...
    Hi, Grammar Pulis.

    I used to be one those who write "Hello Boss," in an email.

    You are right; that's wrong.

    In your reply to Ruby Isabella, you wrote "The because". That construction, I think, is not grammatical, because BECAUSE is a conjunction.

    "The that..." is better.

    Keep posting. Arrest those grammar violators! :) I also have a grammar blog. I'm not a pulis, though. I'm a detective.
    Anonymous said...
    Dear Gege,

    Wow! I like your readers here. They know their English.

    I simply know my name.

    Keep on sharing your expertise. I am learning a lot.
    Atul Deshmukh said...
    I would like to ask when to use Hi and when only recipient's name.
    My email
    I think this task should be done this way (and all other stuff.)

    Boss's reply
    I think your are right,please go ahead and (Boss asked some other queries which I(XYZ) have to reply in this mail chain only)

    My question is should I start my reply with Hi,Boss. or only Boss's name as he did while replying my mail.
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