I've looked over the newsgroup and figured out that "Mrs." and "Mr." don't have a period after them in Britain. Fair enough. But why is there a period after "Ms" in the U.S.? It's not an abreviation so like "Miss", it needs no period. Yet even MS magazine has a period.

In Canada, "Ms" has no period but "Mrs." and "Mr." do. Is there another reason for the period or is this just an accepted error?
1 2
(Email Removed) (ronit) wrote on 26 Dec 2003:
I've looked over the newsgroup and figured out that "Mrs." and "Mr." don't have a period after them in Britain. ... period but "Mrs." and "Mr." do. Is there another reason for the period or is this just an accepted error?

A "Ms" is still a woman and requires a period in most cases.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
I've looked over the newsgroup and figured out that "Mrs." and "Mr." don't have a period after them in Britain. Fair enough. But why is there a period after "Ms" in the U.S.?

Although it was an arbitrary coinage, it was designed to resemble "Mrs." and "Mr." so it gets a period as well.
In Canada, "Ms" has no period but "Mrs." and "Mr." do.

Wrong. All three do. (Ordinarily, that is.)
Let's see, how can this be demonstrated using Google? Ah, I have it. Choose common surnames like Smith and Jones and search on Canadian sites, asking for 100 results, for "Ms Smith" or for "Ms. Smith", it doesn't matter. Since Google doesn't distinguish the two forms, either version of the search will pick up both. Then just split the results page into single words and see how many times each form occurs.

(Of course, some other forms such as "MS" or "M.S." may also appear; these we ignore. And of course there will probably be more than 100 occurrences in the final count, since Google synopses with one "Ms." will be likely to contain others as well.)
Okay, let's package that up and try some combinations.

Script started on Fri Dec 26 00:57:37 2003
$ cat st
lynx -dump -crawl \
http://www.google.com/search?q=\"$1+$2\"\:$3\&num=100 > tr ' ' '\12' > grep "^$1\.*\$" > sort > uniq -c > sort -nr > echo \"$1 $2\"\ in $3: `cat` > expand >
awk '{printf "%s (%.1f%% / %.1f%%)\n",
$0, 100*$5/($5+$7), 100*$7/($5+$7) }'
$
$ for domain in ca uk com gov; do
... echo; for tag in Ms Mr Mrs; do
... for surname in Smith Jones Johnson; do
... ./st $tag $surname $domain
... done;done;done; exit
"Ms Smith" in ca: 138 Ms. 14 Ms (90.8% / 9.2%) "Ms Jones" in ca: 116 Ms. 29 Ms (80.0% / 20.0%) "Ms Johnson" in ca: 123 Ms. 34 Ms (78.3% / 21.7%) "Mr Smith" in ca: 145 Mr. 11 Mr (92.9% / 7.1%) "Mr Jones" in ca: 125 Mr. 2 Mr (98.4% / 1.6%) "Mr Johnson" in ca: 130 Mr. 18 Mr (87.8% / 12.2%) "Mrs Smith" in ca: 152 Mrs. 18 Mrs (89.4% / 10.6%) "Mrs Jones" in ca: 153 Mrs. 15 Mrs (91.1% / 8.9%) "Mrs Johnson" in ca: 180 Mrs. 12 Mrs (93.8% / 6.2%)

"Ms Smith" in uk: 105 Ms 10 Ms. (91.3% / 8.7%) "Ms Jones" in uk: 97 Ms 5 Ms. (95.1% / 4.9%) "Ms Johnson" in uk: 75 Ms 17 Ms. (81.5% / 18.5%) "Mr Smith" in uk: 123 Mr 74 Mr. (62.4% / 37.6%) "Mr Jones" in uk: 152 Mr 45 Mr. (77.2% / 22.8%) "Mr Johnson" in uk: 121 Mr 36 Mr. (77.1% / 22.9%) "Mrs Smith" in uk: 186 Mrs 27 Mrs. (87.3% / 12.7%) "Mrs Jones" in uk: 133 Mrs 34 Mrs. (79.6% / 20.4%) "Mrs Johnson" in uk: 153 Mrs 29 Mrs. (84.1% / 15.9%)

"Ms Smith" in com: 110 Ms. 23 Ms (82.7% / 17.3%) "Ms Jones" in com: 169 Ms. 18 Ms (90.4% / 9.6%) "Ms Johnson" in com: 122 Ms. 9 Ms 1 Ms.. (93.1% / 6.9%) "Mr Smith" in com: 237 Mr. 35 Mr (87.1% / 12.9%) "Mr Jones" in com: 175 Mr. 50 Mr (77.8% / 22.2%) "Mr Johnson" in com: 184 Mr. 34 Mr (84.4% / 15.6%) "Mrs Smith" in com: 215 Mrs. 31 Mrs (87.4% / 12.6%) "Mrs Jones" in com: 200 Mrs. 40 Mrs (83.3% / 16.7%) "Mrs Johnson" in com: 220 Mrs. 11 Mrs (95.2% / 4.8%)

"Ms Smith" in gov: 102 Ms. 2 Ms (98.1% / 1.9%) "Ms Jones" in gov: 106 Ms. 5 Ms (95.5% / 4.5%) "Ms Johnson" in gov: 113 Ms. 2 Ms (98.3% / 1.7%) "Mr Smith" in gov: 150 Mr. 1 Mr (99.3% / 0.7%) "Mr Jones" in gov: 175 Mr. 3 Mr (98.3% / 1.7%) "Mr Johnson" in gov: 147 Mr. 2 Mr (98.7% / 1.3%) "Mrs Smith" in gov: 125 Mrs. 2 Mrs (98.4% / 1.6%) "Mrs Jones" in gov: 121 Mrs. 1 Mrs (99.2% / 0.8%) "Mrs Johnson" in gov: 127 Mrs. 2 Mrs (98.4% / 1.6%)

Script done on Fri Dec 26 01:00:14 2003
So it does seem to be true, if these results are representative, that "Ms" without a period is proportionately just a little more common than "Mr" or "Mrs" without a period, in both Canada and the UK. But the majority usage is solidly with a period in Canada for all three abbreviations, as I said. And in the UK, without a period (and also without a full stop :-)) for all three.
Note that even if the results are truly representative, this still does not imply that there are many people who write "Mr." but "Ms". It could also be that a certain fraction of the people who write "Mr." are old- fashioned types who won't use "Ms" or "Ms." at all.
Mark Brader "Eventually, of course, I fell into the trap of Toronto becoming comfortable with find(1)'s syntax..." (Email Removed) Steve Summit

My text in this article is in the public domain.
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"Ms Smith" in ca: 138 Ms. 14 Ms (90.8% / 9.2%) "Ms Jones" in ca: 116 Ms. 29 Ms ... Mrs. 1 Mrs (99.2% / 0.8%) "Mrs Johnson" in gov: 127 Mrs. 2 Mrs (98.4% / 1.6%)

It's interesting but not really surprising that the period is used most consistently in the ".gov" domain. What about ".edu"?

Mike Nitabach
Mark Brader's program:
"Ms Smith" in gov: 102 Ms. 2 Ms (98.1% ... in gov: 127 Mrs. 2 Mrs (98.4% / 1.6%)

Michael Nitabach:
It's interesting but not really surprising that the period is used most consistently in the ".gov" domain. What about ".edu"?

Also more than in ".com" (which, remember, is not entirely a US domain), but not quite as much as in ".gov".
Script started on Fri Dec 26 01:32:53 2003
$ for tag in Ms Mr Mrs; do
... for name in Smith Jones Johnson; do
... st $tag $name edu
... done;done;exit
"Ms Smith" in edu: 109 Ms. 5 Ms (95.6% / 4.4%) "Ms Jones" in edu: 121 Ms. 6 Ms (95.3% / 4.7%) "Ms Johnson" in edu: 111 Ms. 1 Ms (99.1% / 0.9%) "Mr Smith" in edu: 148 Mr. 6 Mr (96.1% / 3.9%) "Mr Jones" in edu: 144 Mr. 17 Mr (89.4% / 10.6%) "Mr Johnson" in edu: 140 Mr. 6 Mr (95.9% / 4.1%) "Mrs Smith" in edu: 160 Mrs. 5 Mrs (97.0% / 3.0%) "Mrs Jones" in edu: 148 Mrs. 2 Mrs (98.7% / 1.3%) "Mrs Johnson" in edu: 146 Mrs. 1 Mrs (99.3% / 0.7%)

Script done on Fri Dec 26 01:33:42 2003

Mark Brader "Finally no number of additional epicycles can Toronto hide the fact that We've Got a Problem Here." (Email Removed) from a science book club promotion

My text in this article is in the public domain.
I've looked over the newsgroup and figured out that "Mrs." and "Mr." don't have a period after them in Britain. ... the U.S.? It's not an abreviation so like "Miss", it needs no period. Yet even MS magazine has a period.

*Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary,* 11th ed., dates "Ms." to 1949. It was created by business people to solve the problem of which title to use, "Mrs." or "Miss," when the marital status of the woman being addressed in a business letter is unknown.
See The American Heritage Book of English Usage entry on "Ms." at http://www.bartleby.com/64/pages/page183.html
"Ms." may not be an abbreviation, but it must not originally have been considered a word, either, and it looks like an abbreviation! The only English word I can think of which has no consonants is "nth" at least one computerized version of Scrabble accepts it. Consider that, then put yourself in the place of a person from the late 1940s, early 1950s. If "Ms." had been considered a word, and had been pronounced as it is now, it would have been spelled "Miz," as indeed the words "Mrs." was (then and now) spelled when representing dialects in which "Mrs." is pronounced that way. But "Ms." was not used in speech (except perhaps in dictation), and I doubt anyone even considered the spelling "Miz" to serve the purpose to which "Ms." was put.
If "Miz" would not have been considered appropriate, and "Ms" would not have been considered a properly spelled word, one way to solve the problem would be to be guided by the title "Mrs." and spell "Ms." as you would if it were an abbreviation. In American, then and now, that would require it to be followed by a period.
In Canada, "Ms" has no period but "Mrs." and "Mr." do. Is there another reason for the period or is this just an accepted error?

Why consider that any error is involved? Canadians do not speak or write British English, they speak and write Canadian English.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
*Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary,* 11th ed., dates "Ms." to 1949.

Which came as quite a surprise to me.
If "Miz" would not have been considered appropriate, and "Ms" would not have been considered a properly spelled word, one way to solve the problem would be to be guided by the title "Mrs." and spell "Ms." as you would if it were an abbreviation.

(A fascinatingly difficult sentence to compose, Ray! Accept a ripple of applause.)
In American, then and now, that would require it to be followed by a period.

I like the convention that an abbr. takes a full stop only if it doesn't end with the last letter of the full spelling.

Am I remembering badly, or was there a short period when, at least in Britain, some people tried spelling it "M/s"?
Mike.
"Ms." may not be an abbreviation, but it must not originally have been considered a word, either, and it looks like an abbreviation! The only English word I can think of which has no consonants is "nth" at least one computerized version of Scrabble accepts it.

sh - don't tell everyone.
Adrian
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