In many formal letters, the first word after the salutation (e.g. "Dear Sir or Madam,") is the pronoun I, which is always capitalized. However, I recently wrote a letter for which this is not the case:

Dear Xxxx,

thank you for ...

A proofreader warned me that I should capitalize "thank", which left me baffled, because it is within a sentence starting with "Dear", therefore I see no logical reason for that.

I am not a native English speaker, though, so I am unsure: should I capitalize the word after the comma or not?

PS: In case it matters, I am in UK.

  • 1
    If it were on a single line, I would leave the letter in lowercase. Since it's part of a new paragraph, it should be in uppercase because it's not the same sentence. Note that many people also use Dear XXX: instead—with a colon rather than a comma. Jun 20 '20 at 19:22
  • 2
    You're right, the comma at the end of the first line creates confusion. However, the "Thank you" line should be capitalized because it is the beginning of a new paragraph and sentence.
    – rolfedh
    Jun 21 '20 at 1:15

In English, "thank" needs to start with a capital. The logical rationale is:

Despite the preceding comma, the line break causes a new sentence to start.

Also see, for instance, this English Language & Usage question on the same topic.

Of course, the opposite, to start "thank" with a lower-case letter, could be just as logically justified:

Despite the line break, the preceding comma causes the previous sentence to continue.

Given that some languages (such as English) use the first rationale, while others use the second rationale, what is right or wrong in a given language is ultimately arbitrary and must be memorized.

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