Mrs. or Ms.?

7 replies
Guest:
I was searching for a site to show me the proper way to use Mrs. and Ms. I came upon this site and was wondering if anyone could tell me when you use Mrs. or Ms.
Thank you
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As far as I know, you use Mrs. when you're talking about or talking to a woman who you know is married.

And you use Ms. when you're not sure if she's married or not.
Full Member307
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As far as I know, you use Mrs. when you're talking about or talking to a woman who you know is married.

And you use Ms. when you're not sure if she's married or not.


Ms. tends to be silent on marital status, even if you know the actual status.

Mrs. tends to be used when you want to acknowledge the "married" marital status.

For example, I might address a letter:

"Dear Ms. Nancy Smith:"

regardless of whether Nancy is single, separated, widowed, divorced, married, gay or whatever.

It is the "female" equivalent of "Mr." as "Mr." gives no indication of marital status.

If you know Nancy Smith is married, should you use "Mrs." or "Ms."? I personally tend to use "Ms." but there is nothing wrong with "Mrs." I tend to use "Mrs." rarely now, though it just my personal preference. I like the "equivalence" argument of Ms. (to that of Mr.). To me, it seems as though we are equals.

I hope that helps.
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Good points, MountainHiker!
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Guest:
I thought I read somewhere on the web in a site much like this one that if you DO address a married woman with "Mrs." the proper way is to present it using her husband's name after the "Mrs." and not hers. If you DO use her name the proper way is to preface it with the "Ms." salutation.

So, if Janet is married to Ian and Ian's last name is Jones, you would address Janet in one of the following two ways:

"Ms. Janet Jones" OR "Mrs. Ian Jones" BUT NOT "Mrs. Janet Jones"

The thought is that "Mrs." is short for "wife of ...". If you were to say, "Mrs. Janet Jones" to Janet you are saying, "the wife of Janet Jones." Does this make sense?

Thoughts, anyone?
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"Ms. Janet Jones" OR "Mrs. Ian Jones" BUT NOT "Mrs. Janet Jones"


I would never, ever refer to a woman as, "Mrs. Ian Jones," as that completely robs her of her own identity. Technically, it might be correct, but that method of greeting a woman is stuck in the dark ages.

1) Ms. Janet Jones - perfectly acceptable and the method that I use

2) Mrs. Janet Jones - also okay.

Note, if you did not know her husband's last name, you don't know from either 1) or 2) if "Jones" is also her maiden name (that she kept) or also her husband's name.

The percentage of women in North America accepting their husband's last name tends to vary over time. A few years ago, it was more popular than it is now to keep the maiden name, now it is swinging back towards accepting the husband's name. (There was a recent Wall Street Journal article on this topic.) I am not sure which is more popular overall now. If I were a woman in her early years, I wouldn't accept my husband's last name. Because divorce is so prevalent, I would NOT want to be stuck with his name later should the marriage fail. After divorce, many women who took their husbands' names DO NOT change back their maiden names, as everyone in business etc., is accustomed to their previously married names. If they later remarry, they will often change names again. Complicated, no?

Mrs. Janet Jones: To Janet it simply means that you know her first name and last name and that she is married.

Let's say you were in a business meeting at Company A. Ms. Janet Jones is one of the negotiating lawyers. If you were to refer to her as "Mrs. Ian Jones," you would get a very frosty stare and possibly a stern correction. So I simply refer to her as "(Ms.) Janet Jones." You might even want to drop the "Ms." as I would. But I would use the Ms. in writing. i.e.,

Dear Ms. Janet Jones:

The purpose of this letter is to confirm my undestanding of our meeting on July 22nd at your office. Blah blah blah.

Hope this long explanation helps.
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Anonymous:
Ms – to address a woman whose marital status you don't know; also used to address an unmarried woman
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Hi,
As already noted earlier this discussion, many married women also prefer Ms.

Clive
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