So much of creating an application is about sticking to conventions. In the case of cover letters there’s plenty of ways to go wrong just by not knowing the rules, but in many cases once you know them it’s easy to apply them. So, if you’re not sure whether you’re meant to use “Yours sincerely” or “yours faithfully” don’t play it safe and go for something completely different like “Anyway, see you on the flip side” or “Ta muchly” – stick to the script.

When to use “Yours sincerely”

Use this when you have addressed the person directly. For example: “Dear Tony” or “Dear Mr. Goodbelly”. This person is known to you and you are addressing them directly.

When to use “Yours faithfully”

In this case you haven’t addressed this person by name. Perhaps you have identified them by their role such as ” Human Resources Manager” or by the generic “Dear sir/Madam”. In both these cases prior familiarity with the particular person or knowledge of who they are is implied.

Māori versions

Not only is it great to know and use the Māori version to sign off your cover letter but for me the difference between the Maori equivalent of sincerely and faithful is much clearer than the English.

Nāku Nā

Use this when you would use “Yours faithfully”. It’s literally “from me, to you” but the kind of ‘to you’ which can be applied to a mass email or someone you don’t know.

Nāku Noa Nā

Use this when you would use “Yours sincerely”. Literally: from me, to you only.

As you can see the difference is the inclusion of the word Noa. By definition the word means “safe” or the opposite of Tapu or sacred. In context it means “just” or “only” as in “no sugar, just milk”. So the difference is that you are identifying that this is for a particular person and just them.

This bears out the advice of using ‘sincerely’ when you have addressed the person by name as it sigles them out.

And since I’ve been asked this before I’ll quickly mention that whether you choose “Yours sincerely” or “Yours faithfully” it’s only the “Y” that gets capitalised or the first “n” in the case of the Māori version

I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments!

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. A covering letter example quoted on site, uses Dear Sir/Madam with Yours sincerely sign off. Is it correct?


  2. Ending with ‘Yours sincerely’ would be incorrect, as long as the name of the addressee is not known/stated.



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Advice, Job application