Yours Truly | Meaning, Usage & Examples

Yours truly is a standard sign-off that you can write before your name to end an email or letter. It combines the possessive pronoun “yours” with the adverb “truly” (be careful not to misspell it as “truely“) to express a sense of honesty toward the person you’re addressing.

It’s typically used in relatively informal correspondence. The more formal alternative is “Yours faithfully”, used in a formal letter or email to someone with whom you have not interacted before. “Yours sincerely” is used instead when writing formally to someone you’ve corresponded with before.

Example: Sincerely yours
Dear Emily,

Thanks for letting me know about …

Yours truly,


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Truly, faithfully, or sincerely?

There are various options for letter or email sign-offs that start (or end) with “yours”. They’re used somewhat interchangeably in practice, but some traditional distinctions are made:

  • Yours truly is used in more casual correspondence, typically with someone you already know well.
  • Yours faithfully is used instead in formal correspondence with someone you haven’t previously interacted with.
  • Yours sincerely is used in formal correspondence with someone you’ve corresponded with already. It remains formal but acknowledges that the addressee is not a complete stranger to you.
In US English, Yours truly is considered more formal and is used in the same way as “Yours faithfully” is in UK English: to write a formal letter or email to someone you don’t know. Additionally, Americans normally write “Sincerely yours” instead of “Yours sincerely”.

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“Yours truly” in conversation

You might also encounter “yours truly” outside the context of a letter or email. The phrase is often used in a facetious way to refer to oneself, essentially replacing a first-person pronoun like “I” or “me”.

This usage is a way of placing special emphasis on oneself, usually in a humorous way – being either self-deprecating or ironically boastful. It’s considered quite informal and almost never used in a serious context.

Note that when using the phrase in this way, it’s usual to combine it with third-person, not first-person, pronouns and determiners (e.g., “Yours truly slept through his alarm this morning” – not “my alarm”).

    Example: “Yours truly” in conversation
    Guess who managed to spill pasta sauce on herself again. That’s right, yours truly.

    Dinner is served, courtesy of yours truly. Bon appetit!

    Never fear, yours truly is here to save the day!

    Remember that, despite the inclusion of “yours”, yours truly refers to oneself, not to the person one is speaking to – that is, it’s equivalent to “I” or “me”, not to “you”.

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    If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

    Frequently asked questions

    What does ‘yours truly’ mean?

    Yours truly is a phrase used at the end of a formal letter or email. It can also be used (typically in a humorous way) as a pronoun to refer to oneself (e.g., ‘The dinner was cooked by yours truly‘). The latter usage should be avoided in formal writing.

    It’s formed by combining the second-person possessive pronoun ‘yours’ with the adverbtruly‘.

    What is a synonym for ‘truly’?

    There are numerous synonyms for the various meanings of truly:

    In a truthful way Absolutely Properly
    Candidly Completely Accurately
    Honestly Really Correctly
    Openly Totally Exactly
    Truthfully Undoubtedly Precisely

    Should I write ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Yours faithfully’?

    Traditionally, the sign-off Yours sincerely is used in an email message or letter when you are writing to someone you have interacted with before, not a complete stranger.

    Yours faithfully is used instead when you are writing to someone you have had no previous correspondence with, especially if you greeted them as ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.

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    Jack Caulfield

    Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.