Dear Miss Manners: For two years, I have been getting a manicure at a nail salon every other week, with the same technician every time. We are cordial and friendly. The conversation is polite, but not extensive, as her English is limited and I don't speak her language.

She is always professional, and I am happy with her service. For the past few months, we've had a brief hug goodbye, initiated by her, and I feel comfortable with that.

However, she has begun to say "love you," which leaves me uncomfortable as to how to respond. I do not wish to be rude, but nor do I wish to reciprocate the sentiment. I am not obligated to say anything, but it feels like she's waiting for me to reply.

How could one blame an immigrant for being confused about the meaning of this sort of effusion when the natives have never sorted it out?

To some of us, a hug is an expression of personal affection for the hug-ee. To many others, it is the modern equivalent of a handshake.

Language has similarly progressed. “Amazing” and “incredible” mean that something is okay, maybe good, but not startling or unbelievable. Your manicurist doubtless meant to express her appreciation of you, not her passion.

Without embarrassing her, you could model a more restrained warmth. Take the initiative by offering her a handshake (presuming that your nails are dry) and by saying something merely pleasant, such as, “I am always very happy to see you.”

Dear Miss Manners: When a relative died after a lifetime of health issues, my siblings and I attended the visitation — where we spoke to and offered condolences to all of her immediate family members — as well as the funeral and burial. We also donated generously to her suggested charity in lieu of flowers. Are sympathy cards also required?

If by a sympathy card you mean a store-bought card with preprinted sentiments, that is the minimal way of expressing condolences. Or at least it was, until people started texting instead. There would be no reason for doing either, as you have done the proper thing in person.

However, Miss Manners notices that sometimes what is really meant is a letter of condolence, actually composed by the sender. Those, particularly if they contain fond reminiscences of the deceased, are much valued.

Dear Miss Manners: I am a college student whose high school teachers and parents have always drilled into me the importance of a formal email. When I write to my professors or job interviewers, I always address them as "Dear Mr./Ms./Professor/Dr. Last Name" and use an appropriate closing.

However, they often reply with simply "Hi" or no greeting at all. One interviewer replied to an email in poorly capitalized, fragmented phrases and no closing.

If I need to reply to someone's response to me, should I continue my level of formality, or imitate theirs? Or is there an in-between?

How much tuition are you paying to learn from people who know less than you about how to write?

Miss Manners urges you to continue to write respectfully and correctly. Perhaps your professors will learn from you.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com.

2018, by Judith Martin