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Hi,

I am just wondering about using of 'title'.

In a service industry, when you serve a lady, do you call them like following?

1. " Excuse me, Miss. Would you like a glass of water? "

2. " Excuse me, Ma'am. Would you like a glass of water? "

Which way is more natural?

If #1 sounds as natural as #2, do you use 'Mrs' for married women?

Many thanks!
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I'd advise you to use "ma'am" unless they look like they're under the age of 18.
Thanks for the advise, Mrs. Grammar Geek.

By the way, is that because that's more polite or more used ?

I've been America once and stayed there about three weeks, and people there seem to use both "sir" and "ma'am" quite normal and often.

However, here, (Australia ) well, ... , I may be wrong ... but people here don't use "ma'am" that often.

I think I heard that someone say "Miss" or "Mrs" and I think without the lady's name.

So my question is can I say like the example #1 above?
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Unless you KNOW the person's name is Mrs. Smith, I advise against using it.

My married sister-in-law uses her maiden name. She is married, but you can't call her Mrs. Davis because she kept her name Smith. So she'd be Ms. Smith. And while it's perfectly okay to say "Ms. Smith" you can't say "Can I get you some more water, Ms.?"
Hi,

I've always understood that Australia is a pretty informal kind of country. Do you really need to use a title at all? Perhaps you could just say

" Excuse me. Would you like a glass of water? "

Clive
Thanks, Mrs. GG and Clive.

By the way, I agree with you, Clive. Australia is a pretty informal kind of country, the frequency use of the title, if that's what you talking about.

In casual restaurants, people here don't really use "sir" or "ma'am" like Americans do.

It's just that I like being polite like the way professionals do in the movies e.g. 'Pretty Women'.

Have a wonderful day both of you!
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AS Australia has quite a 'British' culture I'd go with the flow and not be too formal. We don't often use Miss/sir or madam over in the UK and it can sound rather obsequeous (sp?) to us.

If you have to, use Miss/Madam or Sir (Ma'am is an Americanism unless you happen to be speaking to the Queen, who for some reason has that reserved for her) but never Mrs. Use Miss for women up to about 30-ish and Madam for ladies older than that. Actual marital state isn't usually considered relevant. Bear in mind that a lot of women (me included) HATE being called madam as it makes us feel old - that point when people stop calling you miss and call you madam instead can be quite depressing, as it's something we sort of connect to old ladies.

So, perhaps you could use it for very young customers, who might enjoy the novelty, or older customers who might find it respectful, but avoid it like the plague for the middle-aged!
Thanks, Nona the Brit!

Now I think I know what I should say.
I'd advise not using 'ma'am' at all or ever, as statistically 4/5 women are deeply offended by this sexist terminology that judges women based on their age. There is no 'young sir' 'old sir' terminology in place so avoid 'miss' and 'ma'am' differentiations.

Simply do not address people at all, just be polite about your business with them.
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