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My German teacher has told me that when writing a letter, in the sentence following "Dear xxx," I shouldn't use a capital letter, and that this rule also holds in English. (I'm not a native English speaker.) I'm wondering if both of her statements are true, seeing as I found this: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/11906/should-i-capitalize-the-starting-sentence-after-a-greeting-that-ends-in-a-comma

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    I usually use an exclamation mark (no longer required, these days, but still allowed): there can be no doubt that you'll start your next sentence with a capital letter after that. That said, if you do use a comma, the sentence is continued, as it were: only nouns etc. will be capitalized.
    – Ingmar
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 18:32
  • @Ingmar this is actually the correct answer. Why don't you provide one?
    – tofro
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 18:57
  • Not sure this qualifies as an answer :-) I'll keep it a comment for the time being.
    – Ingmar
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 15:07

3 Answers 3

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The rules of English and German are different:

In German you use NO capital, unless the first word after adress ist a noun. See also this page.

Sehr geehrter Herr Müller,

ich entschuldige mich für...

In English you use capital. You needn’t set a comma, but you can. In American Englisch you use a colon.

Dear Mrs Fisher,

My sincere apologies for....

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  • A related discussion about capital letters (or not) after the greetings in English, could be found here: english.stackexchange.com/a/195332/23212 Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 12:22
  • You use a colon in American Enlgish? "Dear Mrs Fisher:" ?
    – Adam
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 8:37
  • @Adam I took that from english.stackexchange.com/a/195332
    – Devon
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 8:37
  • @Devon in this answer its stated that the president uses colon :D
    – Adam
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 8:38
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If you use a comma ("Liebe Anna,"), the following part has to start like the rules of the german language are providing. So if a verb is following after the comma, it has to be written without a capital letter; if a substantive is following, you have to write it capitalized.

A different case is the usage of an exclamation mark ("Liebe Anna!") - in this case, the greeting is an independent sentence and the following part has to start capitalized.

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In German, there are different rules depending on the variety.

In Germany standard German, the salutation is separated by a comma from the first sentence, which starts with a small letter (as if the salutation were part of the first sentence):

Liebe Leute,

in Deutschland schreibt man klein.

In Swiss standard German, the salutation has no punctuation mark and the first sentence starts with a capital letter (as if the salutation were a title):

Liebe Leute

In der Schweiz schreibt man gross.

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  • Vielen Dank für diese Antwort. Ich lebe in der Schweiz!
    – Menny
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 8:25

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