Miss / Mr / Mrs / Ms

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by WindDust, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. WindDust Senior Member

    Hello !

    Lately I received a mail from some agency willing to contact me for some job offers

    I'm always wondering about the Mrs/Ms/Miss/Mr ...

    What is used for who ?

    I'd say :
    Miss --> young woman
    Mrs --> older woman
    Mr --> man (so Dear Sir or Mr ? )
    Ms --> when you don't know whether you're writing to a man or a woman

    Thank you!
  2. bellygroove99 Senior Member

    Bristol, UK
    UK, English
    Miss - an unmarried female
    Mrs - a married female
    Mr - a man
    Ms - a woman who perhaps you don't kow if she is married, or some woman prefer to be called this anyway (I'm English but still not entirely sure on this one)

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 17, 2008
  3. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, USA
    American English
    This is correct:).
  4. jul01 New Member

    I am really lost with the "Ms." thing.

    2 examples that I don't understand from an american book:

    (The narrator is talking about a widowed women:) "I called her Mrs. Bennington at her insistence. When I'd referred to her as Ms. Bennington; she'd nearly bitten my head off."

    And in this book the narrator is a women of 26 years old who has been engaged at one point, but is not anymore, and who does not like being referred as Miss. but as Ms.
  5. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    Could you please confirm the non abbreviated spellings of those?
    Missus (or perhaps Mistress, what is the difference ?)
    ??? (How do you spell Ms unabbreviated?)

    Thank you.
  6. Punky Zoé

    Punky Zoé Senior Member

    France - français

    @ FredC, selon ma phonologie personnelle :p :
    Mrs : missiz
    Ms : mizz

    @ Jul01 : ce que je comprends du texte. La narratrice souhaite qu'on utilise Ms et non Miss la concernant. Ms (création récente) présente l'intérêt d'être non-discriminatoire, utilisable pour toute personne de sexe féminin, quelque soit son statut social. À l'image de ce qui se pratique pour les personnes de sexe masculin, avec Mr., non ?

    Son personnage, pour des raisons qui lui sont propres (âge, référence à son statut de femme mariée avant son veuvage ...), souhaite qu'on s'adresse à elle en précisant son statut de femme mariée. Peut-être son éducation fait-elle qu'elle refuse la convention moderne qu'est Ms ?

    La notion Ms a déjà été discutée sur ce forum.

    Ce sont bien des questions de mecs, ça ! :rolleyes:
  7. Topsie

    Topsie Senior Member

    Avignon, France
    On voit toujours Ms. en abrégé et il n'y a pas d'autre façon de l'écrire !
    Le français "Madelle", qu'on a proposé comme traduction n'a jamais eu de succès :( Elles sont où les French Feminists :confused:
  8. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Je comprends le peu de succès de Madelle : on dirait un prénom ou un nom de marque de garniture périodique. C'est ce que ce néologisme m'évoque en tous cas...
    Je ne suis pas passéiste, mais je conserve un faible pour Citoyen et Citoyenne.:p
    Voire... Camarade !
  9. ascoltate

    ascoltate Senior Member

    Montréal, QC
    U.S.A. & Canada, English
    I would say that in a business letter to someone (whether you know their marital status or not) it is customary to use "Mr." for men and "Ms." for women nowadays.
  10. tilt

    tilt Senior Member

    Nord-Isère, France
    French French
    Les French Feminists demandent, à juste titre selon moi, que toutes les femmes soient appelées Madame. Je trouve que le néologisme Ms. ne fait qu'entériner l'inutile et injuste discrimination entre Mrs et Miss.
  11. OLN

    OLN Senior Member

    French - France, ♀
    La discrimination est pour moi plus inutile et injustifiée (que veut dire "célibataire" quand on vit en couple depuis 20 ans et a 4 enfants?) qu'injuste.
    Le néologisme qui n'a pas lieu d'être. Il fait cohabiter 3 dénominations alors qu'une suffit. Quand en plus il est aussi ridicule que madelle, comme si "delle" :confused: avait un sens et sonnait différemment de demoiselle à l'oreille !
    Les Allemands disent Frau à toute personne de sexe féminin dès l'adolescence.
    A-t-on jamais songé à inventer (Mon)damoiseau en référence à l'immaturité, au célibat, à la virginité, à la 'nobless sans titre', à un emploi subalterne ou à la légèreté des moeurs d'un homme ? ;)
  12. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    There is no formal unabbreviated spelling of any of these.

    Mister and the parallel Missus are used in casual/slang conversation only. E.g. "Hey mister, give us a quid for a cuppa." or "'Scuse me, missus, you've dropped yer glove."

    Mistress no longer has the meaning of "married woman" which it had for Shakespeare. It now has three meanings:
    • "female owner of a dog or other pet"
    • "female lover, kept woman, dominatrix..."
    • "schoolteacher" as in "art mistress", "games mistress",
    But even the last two are becoming outdated.

    The abbreviation Ms is pronounced mizz but rarely spelt out in full.
  13. baker589 Senior Member

    English - England
    Ms is a contraction of mistress, although we never say or write it like that; it's just where it comes from.

    The first bullet point is the main difference:

    -Missus is a colloquial term used to refer to someone's wife (I best let the missus know), and is the only use for Missus I can think of (and Keith Bradford's). A mistress is a standard term used to refer to a woman who has had a long-term sexual relationship with a married man

    -Mistress is also a rather dated way to describe a (female) school teacher, e.g. "Report to the Head Mistress at once!"

    -There are a few other uses for mistress, but there not really related to the question

    Edit: I pronounce Ms as 'muhz'
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  14. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    Ms. _____ is widely used in the US. And it's not really "new" anymore--it's been common since the 1970s.

    Miss _____ has virtually disappeared as the older generation comfortable with this form of address has disappeared from the workplace. (Until two years ago I had one colleague in her 70s who always answered her phone "Miss Hughes speaking"--she was the last holdout and then she retired! I know no one else whom I would seriously address as "Miss X")

    I would only address a woman as Mrs. ______ if I were invited by her to do so or if the social situation made it clear that it was the appropriate title.

    PS In AE, unlike BE, all of these titles conform with other abbreviations and take a period (full stop): Mr. - Mrs. - Ms. - Dr. - Rev. -
    Fr. etc.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  15. CanuckPete Member

    Toronto, Canada
    English - Canada
    Ms simply means 'female', as Mr means 'male'. Mrs means a woman who is married, i.e. 'wife'. Miss is a woman who isn't married, i.e., not a wife. Mrs and Miss are considered very sexist and derogatory to many people as they identify women by their marital status—where as men (Mr) are identified by their gender. I would use Ms unless corrected. I wouldn't use Mrs as this would imply the person is married.

    There is a misconception that Ms means a woman who is divorced. It does not mean this. It simply means 'female'.
  16. akaAJ Senior Member

    New York
    American English, Yiddish
    "Ms." or "Ms" is an invented word and is not an abbreviation for anything, certainly not "mistress"
  17. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Hauts-de-Seine, France
    English (Ireland)
    I always write the above abbreviations with a full stop and was taught to do as such from an early age. This is the standard practice, as far as I know, for all other Hiberno-English speakers.

    Interesting to read that the same isn't true as regards B.E.
  18. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, USA
    American English
    Note that if you are speaking to a man or woman that you do not know, you can use "Sir" or "Ma'am." However, if you know their name, this is considered too impersonal, and "Mr./Mrs/Ms/Miss" plus the name is preferred.
  19. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    As for the punctuation, the standard BE rule is that you use a full stop, unless you have written the final letter. So you'd have the dot with Rev. but not with Revd - if that's how you chose to spell it. None of Mr - Mrs - Ms - Dr - Fr requires a full stop.
  20. [...]

    As for the English punctuation, I was also taught to always write any title abbreviation with a period (or full stop), but I think this is changing. In reports and in the media, I see more and more simply a "Mr White," for example, no period at all.
    I have no idea why that is, but I have the impression its usage is growing.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2011
  21. touriste77 New Member

    I don't know if I should create a new thread but...
    Is it correct to use for example "Mrs. First Name LastName" when talking about myself, I mean in automatic signature for emails for example.
    My name is quite confusing about my gender. So when people answer me, they write "Dear Mr. ..." though I am a woman :(
    Thank you.
  22. Topsie

    Topsie Senior Member

    Avignon, France
    Hello touriste & welcome to the forum!:)
    I would just put your first name & last name with title in brackets afterwards,
    e.g. Dominique Dupont (Mme)
  23. touriste77 New Member

    Thank you :)
  24. OLN

    OLN Senior Member

    French - France, ♀
    Welcome to the forums, touriste77!
    See, I added ♀ to my WR profile. ;)

    Would the French abbreviation "Mme" be better understood than simply Ms. or Mrs. Stéphane/Camille/Dominique/Claude Lastname?
    I mean touriste77 was asking about how to sign a letter or e-mail in English. Or am I wrong?
  25. touriste77 New Member

    Hi OLN and everyone,
    Yes, I was asking about e-mail in English.
    So I thought of adapting Topsie's advice and writing "FistName LASTNAME (Mrs.)"...
    Or is it strange?
    Are you suggesting me to add it too to my WR profile ? :)
  26. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    "FirstName LASTNAME (Mrs.)" is standard BE procedure for signing a letter (or e-mail no doubt). But you'd never address anybody else like this.
  27. OLN

    OLN Senior Member

    French - France, ♀
    Touriste being as inscrutable as OLN, it depends on how annoyed you are at being addressed as a "he" ;).

    Il y a tellement de prénoms ambigus en anglais que c'était sûr qu'il existait une façon de résoudre le problème à l'écrit. J'ai appris quelque chose d'inutile, donc d'essentiel. Merci !
  28. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    I too was brought up to respect this rule. ;)
  29. ymc Senior Member

    :tick: wildan1 said it all :)
  30. The problem with Mr./Mr, is that these are not abbreviations, they are contractions, Mister > M....r > Mr
    The middle part of the word is missing and not the end.
    From a purely theoretical point of view, we should write "M'r". Needless to say, I have NEVER seen this transcription used. As a general rule, you add a full stop in AE and not in BE.
    I confirm that as a single adult woman, I would not appreciate being called "Miss", in fact I would be quite offended! I would recommend "Ms" for any woman over the age of 18.
  31. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    I have noticed that it is becoming increasingly common to avoid the use of any title where the woman's marital status or preferred title is unknown. Even important business letters are now frequently signed without any indication of title, for example, yours sincerely, Mary Smith. Presumably in response to this, letters that begin with "Dear Mary Smith" are no longer unusual!

    That said, I would not recommend this approach if writing an important letter such as a job application. Generally speaking, it is reasonable to assume that if the woman to whom you are writing has not specified a title, then she is unlikely be offended by the use of "Ms".
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  32. Mikamocha Senior Member

    Perhaps I missed this answer while reading the threads, but what then would be the French equivalent for Ms...as in a woman who was married and was divorced etc...? I always understood Mlle to mean a young woman who was never married so this would not qualify for Ms. as in a previously married, now divorced etc.. woman. Thank you!
  33. Hildy1 Senior Member

    English - US and Canada
    With or without a period, Mrs, Ms and Miss are all abbreviations of Mistress. Ms is not an entirely new creation; I have seen it in eighteenth-century books, for example.
    It may well have been a mistake to revive Ms rather than using Mrs for all female adults, but that is neither here nor there. It is well established now.
  34. juanpide Senior Member

    And something like "Ms" for a man?
    I mean, when you don't know whether you're writing to a married man or unmarried one
  35. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Français, Québec ♀
    For more info, you can have a look at this page of Termium: Ms

    You'll see in the observations that the ridiculous madelle and suggested abbreviation Mad. (with a period) never caught on... for obvious reasons.

    @ juanpide : Mr. refers to a man, whether he's married or not. There isn't any male equivalent of Ms.
    Note de la modération: messages doublons fusionnés.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2016
  36. Uncle Bob Senior Member

    British English
    It isn't used any more but when I was young it was polite to address a letter to a boy with "Esq" e.g. Christopher Robin Esq.
  37. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    Yes, old-fashioned. In AE the name is followed by a comma and esquire is not capitalized: Christopher Robin, esq.

    A bit more common for a young boy: Master Christopher Robin. Master ​is not abbreviated.
  38. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Français, Québec ♀
    I knew about Master, but that would be the male equivalent to Miss, right? juanpide was asking about Ms.

    This is what they say in Dictionary.com about esquire :
  39. juanpide Senior Member

    What about 'Sir'?
  40. Uncle Bob Senior Member

    British English
    Ooh arr, I nigh forgot the young Master, bless his soul.:)

    You often start a letter "Dear Sir" or, if you are complaining, simply "Sir" but otherwise it is only used for those who have been given, or bought, a knighthood. The forms of address for "the great and the good" who have inherited or, again, bought aristocratic titles make a long list (which is best ignored:)).
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  41. Hildy1 Senior Member

    English - US and Canada
    "Sir" can also be used, not followed by a name, to correspond to "ma'am".
    - Yes, sir. No, sir. Yes, ma'am. No, ma'am.
    This was common in the past for children speaking to adults, and is still used in some regions, such as the Southern United States.
  42. Alpheratz

    Alpheratz Senior Member

    Is there a neutral abbreviation in english for transgender and intersexual persons ?
  43. Kecha Senior Member

    French (France)
    There is none.

    "Madame" as opposed to "Mademoiselle" means "married", but is starting to shift to being the "neutral" title ("Mademoiselle" has been removed from official forms since 2012), although you might always meet a stubborn old fashioned woman who pointedly insists to be called "Mademoiselle".

    See Mx (title) - Wikipedia
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  44. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    But don't imagine that all trans people will want to adopt this -- in fact I don't know of any of my acquaintances who do so. As with many identifiers, it's a matter of personal preference and the polite thing is to ask "how do you like to be addressed?"
  45. Alpheratz

    Alpheratz Senior Member

    Thank you for your reply with the link, it's very useful !

    Yes I am well aware of that, Keith. But for some of these persons who don't feel in keeping with a binary gender system, the development of a neutral gender may be very useful. For your information, Sweden made official a neutral pronoun hen which is now in their royal academic dictionary.
  46. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Français, Québec ♀
    I was just brought back to this thread that Alpheratz reanimated.

    Well, this trick doesn't always work. I added to my profile, plus a little bow on the head of my "she rabbit" avatar... and I'm still often being referred to as "he".
    Just because of the very badly chosen, uninspired « Nicomon » (I shouldn't have used the first 3 letters of my family name). :(

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