Miss, Mrs, Ms, Mr

I live in Sweden where titles are not used at all. People are simply First Name Last Name. This means that it is often difficult for Swedish speakers of English to navigate the world of personal titles in English.

So, to summarise

– Mr (not Mr. and not mr) means Mister or Master (if you are a boy)

– Miss (not Miss. not miss) means you are unmarried

– Mrs tends to be tricky so I tend to use examples:

  • my name when single was Miss Janet Carr
  • my name when married was Mrs Mark Comerford
  • my name when divorced was Mrs Janet Comerford
  • my name if widowed would be Mrs Janet Comerford

but to avoid all trickiness with titles for women, just use Ms (pronounced Mz)

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

4 thoughts

  1. When I was in Birmingham Crown Court many years ago now, and not as a criminal, I might add, His Honour Judge Stephen Potter reminded a barrister that there is no such term as “Ms”, in law, and that one should only use Miss or Mrs. I think the law still applies, but times have changed as to what is socially acceptable.

    Steve

  2. Interesting. I would suspect that your second and fourth examples would entirely depend on region and the age of the person involved. Very few people in my generation use the husbands first name. Same with the fourth. Many of my older donors still insist on using their husbands name even after his death. But the younger generation never did, so they remain Mrs Female First Name Last Name.

    1. I guess it is also the context. In my work the only places who really use this formal format are the embassies and Minstries for Foreign Affairs when sending out invitations. But then I usually ring the embassy concerned and ask how they prefer to be addressed.

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