calling/addressing adults as "Sir" and "Ma'am"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by quietdandelion, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    Homesweethome
    Formosa/Chinese
    The book, The Essentail 55, includes rules such as addressing adults as "sir" and "ma'am," making eye contact, and speaking politely on the phone.


    I wonder if I can say "calling adults as 'sir' and 'ma'am'" without making a change in meaning and tone.
     
  2. mjscott Senior Member

    You could use it without making a change in meaning and tone--however, they would only address adults using "sir" and ma'am"--they wouldn't call them sir and ma'am. Calling is the same as beckoning--they would not always be beckoning them, they would also be answering them.

    Examples:
    Calling an adult:
    "Ma'am, could I please see the red sweater on the shelf behind the counter?"

    Addressing an adult:
    --(Sales assistant): "Would you like to see the red sweater on the shelf behind the counter?"
    (customer): "Yes, ma'am, that's the one I want to look at!"
     
  3. sunkitty Senior Member

    California
    USA English
    "Calling" can also mean "giving a name to" or "addressing as". For example: "My brother's name is William, but everyone calls him Billy".

    But the word "as" is built into the word "call" in this context, so you would leave it out.

    Addressing adults as Sir and Ma'am :tick:
    Calling adults Sir and Ma'am :tick:
    Calling adults as Sir and Ma'am :cross:

    Hope that helps.
     
  4. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    Homesweethome
    Formosa/Chinese
    Thanks, mjscott and sunkitty.
    Sunkitty's post is very clear, but mjscott's confuse me a bit.
     
  5. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I agree with both points of view here. "Calling adults 'sir' and 'ma'am'" (without "as" of course) is acceptable, but "addressing adults as 'sir' and 'ma'am'" is more formal, and less ambiguous.
     
  6. Joobs Banned

    In a house
    Glasgow, Scotland - English
    Note that in the UK we don't bother with such (psuedo) platitudes. The respect you show is judged by your manner and actual speech. And also there is an issue of "class". "Sir" and "Ma'am" are reserved for those with a military commission (Officer/Warrant Officer) and royal appointments.
     

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