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Is It Correct to Say “Best Wishes”?

When you are ready to finish an email, you may begin to wonder what sounds better, “Kind regards” or “Best wishes”? That all depends on to whom you are sending an email.

“Best wishes” is a phrase that expresses optimistic hope for someone’s future. It’s common in greeting cards and letters, but it is a relatively rare phrase in verbal communication. The term is ambiguous, and you can use it to wish someone the best for any future event, including weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and new births.

“Best wishes” is a socially acceptable phrase that most receive well in almost any situation. But if you’re worried that you might be overusing it, read on to find out more.

What Does “Best Wishes” Mean?

“Best wishes” means to send someone an indication of hope for their future happiness, success, or health. This phrase has two parts, the superlative adjective “best” and the abstract noun “wishes.”

The use of the superlative adjective “best” — compared to its base and comparative forms “good” and “better,” respectively — express the most excellent or highest quality of something.

“Wishes” is a noun with a positive connotation, which describes a desire or need for something, and within this context, a positive desire for someone else (source). 

It is possible to wish bad things to happen to someone, so we require the superlative adjective to remove all doubts about the speaker’s or writer’s intentions.

For a more specific scenario, the phrase “safe travels” may be appropriate to conclude an email or letter or as an imperative statement requesting that someone travel safely. Read “Is It Correct to Say “Safe Travels”?” to read about how to use the phrase correctly.

Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Best Wishes”?

It is grammatically correct to say “best wishes,” but it can sound a little awkward on its own. “Best wishes” is a minor sentence, so it does not include a subject or predicate (source). If you are using it alone, you must set the context.

For example, if you are celebrating a coworker’s birthday and have to write on their card, the phrase “Best wishes” is perfectly acceptable as a standalone phrase. However, you should not use it without context.

Ideally, when using “Best wishes,” you should accompany it with some sort of object or other indication for what or to whom you intend best wishes.

Example sentences:

  • Best wishes for your new job!
  • Best wishes on your upcoming marriage; may your union be blessed.
  • I sent my best wishes to your family.

Is It Correct to Say “Best Wishes to You”?

It is correct to say “Best wishes to you.” When using this phrase, you pass your best wishes to a specific person. The preposition “to” indicates a figurative movement in this scenario, where your best wishes move to another person.

You can also use other variants with “to” as long as you direct the best wishes toward someone.

Example sentences:

  • Please pass my best wishes to the family.
  • Best wishes to the newly married couple.
  • Jake asked me to express his best wishes to the captain.

“To” is not the only preposition that will work with “best wishes.” “For” is a very common preposition that indicates the purpose of the best wishes. You can also use “at” to signify an event that requires best wishes.

Example sentences:

  • After he was injured, Amy sent Charles her best wishes for his speedy recovery.
  • They offered their best wishes for her upcoming exams.
  • I pass on my best wishes at the start of your new company.
Image by Kate Macate via Unsplash

How Do You Use “Best Wishes”?

You can use “best wishes” in several scenarios. The most common one is a letter sign-off. When it appears at the end of a letter or email, you should skip a line after your final paragraph and then write “Best wishes.”

The phrase “Best wishes” has been around for many years. It became popular in the 20th century, and people used it to sign off letters politely. Poet Dylan Thomas and writer F. Scott Fitzgerald signed off their letters using this phrase, and it continues until today.

Some people capitalize the terms, writing “Best Wishes,” but that is not grammatically accurate, and you should only capitalize the first word. This is because “Best wishes” is a minor sentence and creates an effect.

“Best wishes” also appears in many written texts, especially letters and greeting cards. Because the phrase is positive and nonspecific, fitting in various scenarios.

When using “best wishes” in a text, it is helpful to be more specific about what or who the phrase refers to. A specific point should follow that you are sending your best wishes for, such as a birth, anniversary, or new promotion.

When Can You Use “Best Wishes”?

“Best wishes” is a polite and friendly phrase that works in a range of scenarios. It most often appears in text, and “best wishes” is a standard sign-off you can use at the end of letters and emails (source).

It often appears at the end of emails because it is a positive way to send your regards. Additionally, when it functions as a sign-off, it is a standalone phrase that does not require specifics for the best wishes, as the email or letter has a reader.

You can also use it to express your best wishes for someone verbally. For example, you can use it when something good has happened to someone and you want to wish them success for the future of their new endeavor.

In this scenario, it is logical to be specific about what you’re wishing them well for and accompany it with other positive sentiments like other hopes for their future. You can also change the syntax since “best wishes” is relatively formal.

Example sentences:

  • Best wishes on your new job; I hope it brings you success!
  • Best wishes on your anniversary! 

In What Context Can You Use “Best Wishes”?

There are certain situations where “best wishes” are appropriate to express. As we’ve mentioned previously, it appears most often at the end of a letter or email as a friendly sign-off. It can also be an interjection.

It is an expectation to sign off an email politely and positively, so “best wishes” is a simple way to do that. There are also other synonyms, and we’ll discuss those a little later in this article.

Some may consider not using a sign-off impolite, but it is unlikely that anyone would have a significant issue with it, especially in a shorter, informal email. 

“Best wishes” is also likely to appear in a greeting card or similar context as a way to wish someone the best for something positive that is happening in their lives. You can also use “Best wishes” on a greeting card to congratulate someone.

An interjection is a word or phrase that expresses a strong emotion or exclamation. As a part of speech, it can stand alone.

We can use “Best wishes!” as an interjection, although it is not common when wishing someone well. In a scenario where someone at work is having a party for their last day of work, using “Best wishes!” as an exclamation is perfectly acceptable.

Finally, “Best wishes” is appropriate to use in a longer sentence when you wish someone well.

Image by Scott Graham via Unsplash

Using “Best Wishes” in a Full Sentence

You can use “Best wishes” as a standalone phrase when signing off a letter or email, but there are times when it has to be part of a sentence.

When you use the phrase in a complete sentence, it is helpful to include a subject, a verb, and an indirect object. “Best wishes” functions as the direct object in the sentence.

Example sentences:

  • I am sending you best wishes on your promotion.
  • Peter and May send you their best wishes for your recovery.
  • Im sending best wishes and presents your way for your new bundle of joy.

A “wish” is an abstract noun, and, hence, combined with the adjective “best,” only a few verbs are appropriate. “Send” is the most common one, but any verb that indicates the movement of something can generally work.

  • They expressed their best wishes.
  • I’ve asked her to pass on my best wishes for her continued happiness.
  • Aaron offered Sabrina his best wishes for her marriage to Harvey.
  • I extend my best wishes for his speedy recovery.
  • Please convey my best wishes to the happy couple.

Sometimes, “best wishes” can stand without a verb accompanying it in a minor sentence or as an indirect object.

  • With all my best wishes for your journey, au revoir.
  • Thanks and best wishes!
  • She goes into her new job with my best wishes.
  • We want to convey to the new principal our very best wishes.

When Not to Use “Best Wishes”

You should not use “Best wishes” when that is a sentiment you wish to avoid. In a scenario where you are sending an angry email due to a legitimate reason, using “Best wishes” may come across as insincere or passive-aggressive.

In a scenario like that, you can use a phrase like “regards” or “sincerely.” Neither of these would be untrue and are still relatively polite, but they indicate the writer’s unhappiness more subtly than “Best wishes.”

“Best wishes” is a phrase meant to be cheerful and amiable. It is an expression of goodwill, so it cannot be an imperative or interrogative term. You cannot demand or command someone to accept your best wishes (source).

Regarding sentence types, it is a declarative or exclamatory phrase, depending on the usage.

What Can You Use Instead of “Best Wishes”? 

“Best wishes” is a relatively formal term, and it works particularly well in text form. Therefore, quite a few phrases can substitute it in specific scenarios. Words like “kind” and “warm” are common synonyms for “best.”

At the end of an email or letter, the following word and phrases have a similar meaning:

  • Kind regards
  • Warm regards
  • Best
  • Best regards

General etiquette when it comes to email chains is that the first email from the sender and the response from the receiver should include a sign-off. After that, it is no longer necessary to keep using it unless the conversation is quite formal.

Other sign-offs can also work, but their meanings are a little more nuanced than just wishing someone well. Although these sign-offs may have slightly different purposes, they are just societal politeness and not something to analyze or question.

Sign OffMeaning
Yours truly/Yours sincerelySemi-formal sign-off indicating that the writer is truly sincere
Thanks again/AppreciativelySemi-formal sign-off showing the writer is thankful — this sign-off usually accompanies a letter or email that is asking for a favor or is thanking the reader for something they have done
Respectfully/FaithfullyFormal sign-off indicating the writer wants to show respect
Love/Fondly/AffectionatelyInformal sign-off common at the end of a friendly letter to establish a close relationship between the writer and reader

If you are worried about other phrases that you’d like to use to sign off an email or the nuances of business communication, take a look at “Is It Correct to Say, ‘Revert Back’?

This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.

You can use these phrases when you do not want to be particularly friendly in a written text. Of course, you should not be trying to antagonize the receiver, but if you cannot truly be sincere, then a monosyllabic sign-off like “Best” or “Regards” will do the job.

Final Thoughts

“Best wishes” is a ubiquitous, non-confrontational way to end an email or letter. It also expresses your hope for a positive future towards another person. It’s one of those phrases where you are unlikely to go wrong using it, and no one would question your intentions.

While it may be familiar, it is not a phrase to be concerned about overuse. So go forth and send best wishes to all the people you know. There can always be more positivity in the world.

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Saturday 12th of March 2022

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