How to Use Titles in the Correct Way: Mr, Ms or Mrs?

How to Use Titles in the Correct Way

In English it’s polite to use a title when you speak to someone or about someone. But we hear Ms. Jenny too many times. Titles are used only with someone’s last name.

Here are the most common titles and their abbreviations:

Abbreviation: In Full: When to Use:
Ms. Miss [pronounce miz] Unmarried or married woman
Miss Miss [pronounce mis] Young, unmarried woman (old-fashioned)
Mrs. Missis [pronounce missiz] Married woman
Mr. Mister Man
Dr. Doctor For a medical doctor, or any other professional with a doctorate who likes to be recognized for it.
Prof. Professor  

Examples of Use:

When you don’t know someone well and you’re holding a formal conversation with her or him, say: “Nice to meet you, Ms. Hopkins.” Or: “Have you met Dr. Johnson?”

So when do you say Sir or Madam?

You say Sir or Madam to someone when you want to be respectful, but you don’t know their name, or if you don’t want to use their name for some reason.


“Have you brought me my newspaper?” “Yes, Sir.” Or: “Would you like some ice with that, Ma’m (Madam)?”

You may also start a letter or email with Dear Sir or Dear Madam if you don’t know their names, but if you want your message to have some kind of effect, in many cases finding out their names is preferable. In that case you’d write Dear Mr. Beckham, or Dear Mrs. Frank.

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