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Letter: Opening - Miss, Ms, Mss

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard, Oct 15, 2008.

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  1. Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard Junior Member

    Utreg, Hollanda
    Dutch, The Netherlands
    Dear members,​
    When in an application letter you want to adress a lady but your not sure if she is married or not, what should I use?

    Mrs. or Ms. or Mss? With or without bullets? Thanks in advance.​
     
  2. Kevin Beach

    Kevin Beach Senior Member

    These days, most businesswomen take no offence if they are addressed as Ms.

    By "bullets" do you mean full stops/periods? If so, it varies between AmE and BrE. If her tradition is British, no full stop is necessary. If it is American, she will be used to seeing a full stop (or what she would call a "period").

    Ms for Britons. Ms. for Americans. (I'm sure that Anglophones from other countries will tell us their preferences too!)
     
  3. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Use "Ms." even if you do know her marital status. Keep the period if you're using American English; drop it if you prefer British English.
     
  4. languageGuy Senior Member

    Kansas City, MO
    USA and English
    Ms. is for women of unknown marital status.
     
  5. Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard Junior Member

    Utreg, Hollanda
    Dutch, The Netherlands
    Thank you all. No I can send my letter without worrying about this anymore.

    Kindest regards from Holland.
     
  6. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Actually, many people prefer to use Ms. as a universal honorific for women (hence the name of the magazine). In fact, some view the Miss/Mrs. distinction as inherently sexist, since there is no equivalent distinction for men.
     
  7. languageGuy Senior Member

    Kansas City, MO
    USA and English
    I didn't mean to imply that Ms. did not have other uses, only that if you do not know a woman's marital status, it is best to use Ms.
     
  8. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    "Some" may indeed view it that way. Others, however, have no such view at all, and indeed may have equally strong feelings in favor of Miss or Mrs.

    Learners should not be needlessly alarmed by the false idea that any letter or envelope addressing a woman as "Miss" or "Mrs." will probably be regarded as offensive or sexist. If one knows that a woman prefers "Miss" or "Mrs.", her preference shold be used, regardless of whether or not some individuals have contrary views on the topic.
     
  9. Poppy P Senior Member

    Somme, France
    English
    Is it old fashioned to use 'Dear Madam'?
     
  10. mommyteacher Junior Member

    Colorado
    English - United States
    I don't think it's old fashioned, since when addressing a letter where the gender of the recipient is unknown, one uses "Dear Sir or Madam."
     
  11. Poppy P Senior Member

    Somme, France
    English
    Phew! Was worried I'd been out of the UK for too long! ;-)
    Wouldn't it make life easier to just use 'Madam' rather than risk offending anyone with 'Mrs., Miss or Ms.'?
    Also, I heard that Ms. could imply the (homo)sexuality of a woman... Is that absurd? Obviously it's just a question, I don't want to offend anyone. Would really like to know, though!
     
  12. mommyteacher Junior Member

    Colorado
    English - United States
    I would say it is absurd. I taught school, and although I was Mrs., most of my students referred to me as Ms. I think it's extremely common to call a woman Ms., regardless of her marital status. I prefer Mrs., but I would never take offense at being called Ms. (or Miss, for that matter).
     
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm not one of those who see the distinction as sexist.

    If you know that I'm Mrs Loob, please call me Mrs Loob.

    If you don't, call me what you like: Ms, Miss, even Mr. I'll correct you if you're wrong:)
     
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Please look at some of the earlier threads about Ms, in which there is plenty of sensible guidance about when and whether to use Miss, Ms and Mrs.
    You'll find them by looking up Ms in the WordReference Dictionary (see also forum rule #1).
     
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