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How/when to use Miss & Ms. ? I wonder whether calling someone Miss in some official occasions would be inappropriate even flippant or not. Like in the courtroom or some formal conferences, would you call a young woman miss or Ms.? Thank you in advance!
Oct 26, 2016 9:29 AM
Answers · 4
It is up to the individual primarily to decide if they would like to be called Miss or Ms. Miss infers that they are not married. Ms on the other hand does not indicate whether a woman is married or not. Some women prefer to not disclose their marital status because it is understandably private. Some like the sound of it and after all, why should it be only men that can hide their marital status by being called Mr. Ms will also be used by any parties that are unclear if a woman is married or not.
October 26, 2016
The answer is supposed to depend on whether or not you know her marital status. Ms is supposed to be used when you do not know somebody's marital status. So - for example - in a Western society, Miss would be appropriate for anybody below the age at which one can legally marry. Of course, if you have heard them introduce themselves at any point, then you should "take your cue" from them. To "take your cue," means that you should do what they do (to copy or to emulate them) - so if they refer to themselves as "Miss Smith," you should call them "Miss Smith," and if they call themselves "Ms Smith," you should call them "Ms Smith."
October 26, 2016
I agree with Anna, Andrew and Stefano. It is best to ask how the person prefers to be addressed, and then just go with that. In writing, "Ms." is acceptable unless you find out they prefer something else. Depending on the region in the US, there are different expectations in both written and spoken English. For example, in the Midwest and Northeast, you might address a woman as "Ms. Smith" initially until you find our her preference of how she wishes to be addressed. She may tell you to call her "Mrs. Smith", "Ms. Smith", or "Jane". In the Southeast, when asked, an older woman might prefer you call her "Miss Jane" over the other choices. You would probably WRITE Ms. Jane, but the pronunciation is "Miss". I am regularly called "Miss Verna". This is an established way to show respect in this region. I use this to show respect to older women that I meet also. If we become friends or if they insist, I drop the "Ms" and call them by their first name.
October 26, 2016
I mostly agree with the others, but just want to add a woman's perspective. "Miss" has a sound that is very young about it. "Little miss" is something that little girls are often called, so once a woman is an adult, it can feel very strange to be called "Miss" even if you're not married. If you're ever unsure, use "Ms." as it is nowadays considered neutral. Definitely don't use "Mrs." unless you know for a fact they are married and that they use it themselves.
October 26, 2016
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