We will sometimes hear someone use the phrase “my dear” to address another person. While it is common to hear this for one person, it is less common to hear “my dears” in the plural. Is “my dears” grammatically correct?
Since “dear” is a countable noun, the plural “my dears” is grammatically correct. We might use the phrase “my dears” to address multiple people we are close to, love, or greatly like. “Dear” can be a noun, adverb, adjective, or interjection, though it is always a noun in this expression.
We’ll review the terms “my dear“ and “my dears,” using them in the proper context. We’ll also cover the nature of countable nouns and possessive adjectives.
What Does “My Dears” Mean?
“My dears” is a term of endearment we might use to address more than one person. The possessive pronoun “my” modifies the plural noun “dears” and indicates that we have an intimate connection with the recipients, considering them “ours.”
The Countable Noun “Dear”
“Dear” is a noun that we use to address a person, animal, or object in a fond way (source). In other words, it is a term of endearment. For example, we can replace a subject’s name with “dear” when addressing or referring to them.
- How are you doing, Sara?
- How are you doing, dear?
- Sara, would you pass me the remote?
- Dear, would you pass me the remote?
The Plural “Dears”
“Dear” is a countable noun, which means it can take a singular or plural form. As it is a regular noun, we simply add an -s to the end to make it plural. This is different from uncountable nouns, which are often abstract nouns or nouns in which the singular form is the same as the plural (source).
- It’s so nice to see you all, my dears!
Keep in mind that the noun “dear” is different from the noun “deer,” which is an animal that lives in the forest!
Countable Nouns vs. Adjectives
Still, we are more likely to hear and see “dear” as a singular noun than a plural noun. Also, when you see “dear,” it functions as an adjective modifying a noun in most instances. For instance, we use the adjective “dear” to describe a person or thing someone loves or greatly likes (source).
- It’s so nice to see you all, my dear nieces!
Some other examples would be, “ My dear aunt Margaret came to visit us last week” or “The park near where I grew up is dear to me.”
An adjective will never have a plural form — the only plural word would be the noun the adjective describes. However, as a plural noun, “dears” is grammatically correct, and we can use it to address multiple people, animals, or things we feel affectionate for.
Again, if we use “dear” in any instance where it is an adjective, we cannot use it with an -s.
- Hello, my dears.
- Hello, my dear grandchildren.
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “My Dears”?
It is, in fact, grammatically correct to say “my dears.” For many nouns in the English language, we add an -s or -es to the end to make them plural. This rule applies to the word “dear” as well, so we can refer to multiple people as “my dears.”
How Do You Use “Dears”?
We can use the noun “dear” or “dears” in a sentence to give the sentence a more warm and loving tone. We would use them in place of someone’s name to demonstrate our affection for them.
Using “My Dears” in a Full Sentence
We usually add “my dears” to the end of a sentence or clause. While we also technically use “my dears” to begin a sentence, this is rarer. “My dears” significantly modifies the overall tone of the sentence and communicates a level of warmth and affection.
Someone might use “dear” or “my dear” when greeting someone, while in the process of leaving, when answering a question, when helping or comforting someone, etc.
- Can I help you, dear?
- I’m so happy to see you, dear.
- The cake is finished baking, my dears!
- My dear, why the long face?
When Can You Use “My Dears”?
The target for a term of endearment such as “My dears” is generally a group of people whom the person speaking feels fondness for. A degree of closeness must exist between the speaker and recipients to make this phrase socially appropriate so that others receive it in a friendly manner.
While anyone can use “my dears” to address a group of people they feel warmth for, this is the sort of expression we might expect to hear from a grandmother, grandfather, or our parents. “Dear” can subtly demonstrate a generational difference between individuals. Normally, an older person would use it to address someone younger.
Also, it is much less common to hear men use “dear” to refer to one another. We can picture the ideal person to address another with this phrase to be an older, feminine, matronly figure, such as a mother or a grandmother.
Can Someone Use “My Dears” in a Negative Way?
The relationship between two parties determines what vocabulary is socially acceptable to use within a situation or interaction. We can intentionally use certain words in the wrong contexts to make a specific point.
For instance, if a person addresses a group of people as “my dears” when they are not close, it can appear strange or awkward. However, if the speaker intentionally wants to target the other party negatively, they can use “my dears” to belittle or condescend.
Clearly, we use terms of endearment to elevate a sentence to a more affectionate level. However, a term of endearment can also function to emphasize the sentence in a different direction, as it can add a sarcastic, rude tone, or condescending tone to a sentence.
To add “my dears” to the end of a statement is a subtle way to show disrespect, though, depending on where we place emphasis, the message can be quite overt. In this context, affectionate phrases such as “my dears” or “sweethearts” operate as verbal weapons.
- You have stains all over your shirt, dear.
- I don’t like your attitude, dear.
- That’s not how we do things here, sweetheart.
Can We Use “Dears” in Email?
“Dears” is technically correct if we are writing to a group of people we would refer to as “dears” in real life. But, of course, that only applies if the recipients are a group of people we are fond of, and we write a letter that addresses them all together.
At the beginning of an email or letter, we normally use “dear” as an adjective. However, when we address someone as “dear” or multiple people as “dears,” we use the word as a noun. The adjective “dear” cannot be plural, so we only write “Dears” if we address multiple recipients.
The “dear” we use in letters comes from the definition “loved or greatly liked.” However, its usage has evolved into an element of formal letter writing. It can work regardless of whether we know the recipient personally, like them, or want to communicate with warmth.
The traditional and respectful way to start a letter is with “Dear,” followed by the recipient’s name. Then, we add a comma and skip a line or two before the letter’s main body.
I hope you enjoyed your holiday!
Can I Start My Email With “Dears”?
We use the words at the beginning of a letter to establish the recipient. It is acceptable to start a letter with a person’s name without the adjective “dear.” For example, if we want to write to our friend Sara, we could start a letter with “Sara,” and it would be correct.
Because this is technically correct, it is also acceptable to substitute the person’s name for a nickname or anything else we may call them. Therefore, we could start a letter with “My Dear.” “Dears,” as a plural noun that addresses a group of people, would also be technically correct.
- My Dear Children,
- My Dear,
- Hello Dears,
- Dear Sara,
Because using “Dear” at the beginning of a letter as an adjective is so common, it can confuse your reader to begin a letter with “Dear” by itself. As a result, your recipient might get the impression you forgot their name.
Do We Say “Dears” or “Dear All”?
As we discussed in the previous section, we should be careful when we begin a letter with “Dears,” as there is a chance it can come off as a mistake. However, the context will likely clue the recipients to the fact that the sender meant to address them warmly.
If we write an email that we plan for multiple people to read or receive, it is appropriate to write “Dear all,” though “Dear all” does not carry the same level of affection as the other phrase. We would use “dear” as an adjective before the indefinite pronoun “all.”
For more on this, make sure you read “Is It Grammatically Correct to Say ‘Dear All’?”
When Not to Use “Dears”
We never use “dears” in instances when “dear” is an adjective, when we address a group of strangers, older people, or men.
If you called a group of strangers on the bus “my dears,” it would come off as strange, but the most unconventional usage of “my dears” would involve a male speaker who speaks to a group of strangers who are also men and are older men at that!
What Can You Use Instead of “Dears”
Instead of the noun “dears,” we can use synonyms such as “darlings” and “sweethearts” (source). These are also common terms of endearment.
If we want a substitute for the formal “dear” at the beginning of a letter, we can use almost any greeting, though the letter’s tone should determine which greeting to use. In most cases, “dear” is the safer choice, but you can make it more friendly with “Good morning” or a very informal “Howdy.”
For someone particularly special to us, we can use the adjective “dearest” instead of “dear,” which is an affectionate term that carries greater intensity than “dear.”
If we want to use a substitute for “dears,” we could use different terms of endearment in their plural forms, such as “darlings,” “sweethearts,” and “my loves.” We can also address the group to whom we refer by naming our relationship, such as with “My friends” or “My family.”
Possessive Pronouns and Adjectives
Possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives often look similar but accomplish different things. For example, “mine” and “my” look and sound alike, but “mine” is a possessive pronoun, and “my” is a possessive adjective.
Possessive pronouns are words such as “mine,” “yours,” “ours,” “his,” “hers,” and “theirs” (source). We use them to rename the subject and indicate that a person or group possesses them.
- The dog is mine.
- The car is ours.
- I am yours.
Possessive adjectives are words such as “my,” “your,” “our,” “his,” “her,” “its,” and “their.” For example, in the context of “my dears,” we use the possessive adjective “my” to indicate that the person, in a kindred sense, “belongs” to us. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
- This is my dog.
- That is our car.
- I am your dear.
The central difference between the two categories is that possessive pronouns can exist on their own by taking the object’s place, while possessive adjectives must go before the object.
To recap, “dears” is a plural noun that denotes a group of people, animals, or things we feel a fondness for. We use the singular “dear” as a noun or an adjective. When we use it as an adjective, it means “loved or greatly liked” and must remain in its singular form.
We use the noun “dears” when we refer to or directly address a group of people, animals, or things. When we use “dears” to address a group of people, it takes the place of the names of the addressees. “Dears” is most common when a person addresses others who are younger.
We can start a letter or email with “dears” to substitute for the individual names of the recipients, but we only use this term if we would use it to address the group in real life. Again, “dears” in this context is a noun and is different from the adjective “dear” that comes before the recipient’s name at the beginning of a letter.