Is the first letter in 'sir' written with a small or capital letter?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by tigerduck, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. tigerduck Senior Member

    German / Switzerland

    Is the first letter (s) in sir written with a small or a capital letter?

    This is an extract from a telephone conversation one of my students wrote:

    I'm so sorry. Mrs Sunshine is out of the office. Maybe I can help you, sir.

    Thank you for your help.
  2. westopia Senior Member

    That´s correct. And I think you can use Sir when you say, for example, Sir Elton John ???? :confused:
  3. Carrie2 Senior Member

    English, UK
    Yes, exactly. You write "sir" when it's like your example, tigerduck, and "Sir" when it's before someone's name, because then it's a title (just as Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Dr, Dame, etc. are also written with capital letters in English).
  4. westopia Senior Member

    But you can only use Sir XXXX when that person has a royal title, right? Otherwise it would be Mr. XXXX ?
  5. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Under the British system of honours, a man who has been knighted is called Sir [William].
    The title Sir is used only by men who are citizens of the UK or other Commonwealth countries where the Queen is Head of State.

    Bob Geldof, an Irish citizen, was given a honorary knighthood, Knight Commander of the British Empire, but he is not a UK or Commonwealth citizen, and is not Sir Bob, he is Bob Geldorf, KBE.
  6. westopia Senior Member

    Thanks! Good to know :)
  7. Bretaña

    Bretaña New Member

    Australian & Spanish, Australia
    Yes, if you are addressing someone you would call them sir, but yes, Sir Elton John is correct.
  8. tigerduck Senior Member

    German / Switzerland
    Thank you for all your answers. They are much appreciated.
  9. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Nitpick, nitpick.

    Strictly speaking, if you actually spoke to him, you would say Sir Elton.
  10. Bretaña

    Bretaña New Member

    Australian & Spanish, Australia
    You would? o_O I never realised you'd call him Sir Elton..
  11. Victoria32

    Victoria32 Senior Member

    New Zealand
    English (UK) New Zealand
    If you are referring to a specific person and it is his title, then it is written with a capital letter, as someone said "Sir Elton John". But when it is general, then sir, without a capital...
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Dear Sir,
    When writing letters using this form, you should use a capital S.
    Yours faithfully,
    Panj CDM, JCB

    <<Now with added links>>
  13. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    CDM= Certainly Does Moderate
    JCB=Just Call him Bob!

    Or do these mean you are a sir, Sir Panj?
  14. SirUpset New Member

    Can anyone continue, my concern is that I am an american citizen, and an officer in a reply email titled it

    (then the message)

    I found it very distasteful or am I over reacting?
  15. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I see nothing wrong with it or remarkable about it at all.
  16. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Welcome to the forum, SirUpset. :)

    Though I am sorry that you are upset. Would you please explain what about this bothers you?

    "Sir" is a traditional address when writing to an unknown person, although a bit old fashioned.

    Did you find it terse and unfriendly? Or was it something else?
  17. SirUpset New Member

    I found it very unfriendly, see it was from an officer of the law, I had written a request to review a law report, to the sheriff's department.

    They had responded with my request and attached the said document, I was very upset with this document as it had errors of the actual events that took place, I responded with the discontent and my full story.

    The officer responded with a message that was titled: Sir,
    if you believe that the report... ect

    I responded very upset with the Sir statement... Cops usually use Sir while trying to talk with people on the side of roads, usually when they need to show there commanding presence (So we do not think they are push overs)
    It really pushed my button.

    -I'm not trying to mess up your usual on going here at your forums and thank you for welcoming, I do like to be correct in grammar, If there is such a thing now a days. I am just trying to find out if I should apologize for sending the Sheriff's right hand man a letter on how he just use the term Sir, instead of Dear Sir (last name), or just Sir (last name)
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  18. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    I can see why you felt it was an unfriendly way of addressing you, especially since you were already upset by the report itself.

    If a friend had addressed me in that way, I would be distressed. However, when it is a public official with whom you have no other relationship, and with whom you have communicated only in writing, it seems to me that it is better not to dwell on it. People do use "sir" as a courteous address when they are not trying to bully them. In a written note, you don't have the clue that tone of voice gives you as to what the person's intention is. Even if it was meant to bully you, it seems to me that the more important matter is making sure the report is accurate. It would be better to set this "Sir" aside. ;)
  19. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    If you have more interaction with the police, I think you'll find that they will also call you Sir in polite business conversations as well.

    Dear Sir,:tick:
    Dear Sir (last name),:cross:
    Sir (last name),:cross:
    Sir (first name),:cross: unless you have been knighted
  20. michael13 Senior Member

    If a person called Arthur Conan Doyle has SIR as his prefix, then is he known as Sir Arthur or Sir Conan?
  21. DonnyB

    DonnyB Senior Member

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    It's "Sir Arthur".
    "Conan Doyle" is his surname (his is a double one) and you don't use just Sir+surname.
  22. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    The title "Sir" indicating knighthood (it's not a royal title, by the way; royal titles are several ranks above it) is used with the first name: Sir Arthur. Conan was his middle name, though his family name is often given as the two-part "Conan Doyle."

    When first name alone is not enough to identify a person - there are, for example, many living people named "Sir Michael" - the family name can be used in addition, but never by itself.
  23. michael13 Senior Member

    Thank you Egmont and Donny~

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