+0

I hear that Ma’am is often used in the south of the US when speaking to women older than you,

on the other hand, it can sound offensive, or uncomfortable in other parts of the US. Is that the case?

+0

There are places on the East Coast, notably places in Virginia, where the respectful term of address for a woman is "Miss" followed by her first name. I learned this from a friend of mine who used to live here in California and moved to Richmond, Virginia.

Yes, Miss Lucy. No, Miss Susan. And so on.

When it comes to these formulas of politeness, it's a matter of following local customs.

CJ

Comments  
moguwai007I hear that Ma’am is often used in the south of the US when speaking to women older than you,

Actually, it is used with any woman of any age down south. Up north, we call younger women "Miss".

moguwai007on the other hand, it can sound offensive, or uncomfortable in other parts of the US. Is that the case?

I have been all over, almost. I have never counted the states I've been to. Let's do it now. Ok, I've been to 35 of the 50 states of the Union, and I have never been anywhere that "Ma'am" was anything other than a polite way of addressing a strange woman.

Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.

I'm a native English speaker in the US and I avoid using terms like 'ma'am, sir (I personally find "sir" offensive when being addressed), miss, etc." Just speaking politely is enough, in my view.

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.

And formulas will vary widely from place to place. For example:

~1:15

KIk0abbYgXQ

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?