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Old 31.05.2011, 09:12
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(German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

Yet another thing I should know but don't...

What is the proper way to address a letter when one does not know the gender of the recipient? I am writing to 'S. Müller' - no idea if it is Herr or Frau.

'Sehr geehrte Frau, oder sehr geehrter Herr Müller' doesn't sound right...

Thanks for the help.
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Old 31.05.2011, 09:24
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

I usually chicken out and pretend I don't know the person's name at all:
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren (= Dear Sir or Madam)

Maybe there's a better way though?
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Old 31.05.2011, 09:26
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

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I usually chicken out and pretend I don't know the person's name at all:
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren (= Dear Sir or Madam)

Maybe there's a better way though?
how about putting "for the attention of s mueller "?
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Old 01.06.2011, 17:46
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

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I usually chicken out and pretend I don't know the person's name at all:
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren (= Dear Sir or Madam)

Maybe there's a better way though?
So the general consensus is that Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren is acceptable?

(I'm writing a note to an (I'm guessing from other snippets of information) older homeowner, requesting an appointment to speak to him/her about the house he/she is toying with putting up for sale. So it's business, but the letter recipient is not a business person, if that makes any sense. I'd like to make a good impression - or at least to avoid giving offense.)
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Old 01.06.2011, 18:46
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

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So the general consensus is that Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren is acceptable?

(I'm writing a note to an (I'm guessing from other snippets of information) older homeowner, requesting an appointment to speak to him/her about the house he/she is toying with putting up for sale. So it's business, but the letter recipient is not a business person, if that makes any sense. I'd like to make a good impression - or at least to avoid giving offense.)
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren is fine. An alternative I'd prefer is 'Sehr geehrte(r) Frau/ Herr Müller' because you know it's one person you're adressing, not a group.
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Old 01.06.2011, 19:24
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

I use

Sehr geehrte(r) Frau/Herr Müller


... and hope it teaches her/him to write out their full names, or at least make a distinction themselves by using Frau S. Müller or Herr S. Müller.
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Old 01.06.2011, 23:59
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

Or you could just ask the post delivery person if the person is a man or woman. They know everything . (assuming the house is near you and you have the same delivery person).
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Old 02.06.2011, 00:08
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

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Or you could just ask the post delivery person if the person is a man or woman. They know everything .
Brilliant! I like your style, Mrs. D.
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Old 02.06.2011, 00:22
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

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Brilliant! I like your style, Mrs. D.
Our postman is a wealth of information. We are moving to a village where mail to be posted is picked up at your door. This is going to be very interesting.

Good luck with your letter. Many properties are never advertised, they change hands through word of mouth so it is not uncommon to try to establish personal contact. We did and it worked....bit it has taken almost a year!
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Old 02.06.2011, 01:11
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Re: (German) Salutation When Gender of Recipient Is Unknown?

I find Swiss more tolerent than Germans on that one. In Germany, I would check the gender first or go for Frau Müller and see if the Müller in question reacts to that... if it's a Herr, you just have to add a sentence in your next letter with a polite appology and if it is a Frau, it's bingo. My experience: Frauen hate to be called Herr and make big fuzz (German expression for that would be die beleidigte Leberwurst spielen), the other way around will just be politely corrected without declaration of war.

But in CH, I'd go for Frau/Herr Müller if you really can't call them to find out gender or get the first name on a website or email address.
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