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

  • 3
    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


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....

  • 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

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.


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.

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

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