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Addressing a person using Mr., Ms. or Mrs.
Thread poster: dyranz
dyranz
English
Jun 19, 2008

Hi!

I just want to know if it is okay or it is a correct usage to use Mr., Ms. or Mrs. with a first name only. Because here in Thailand, in their own language, they use that format. So, for example, Mr. George, Ms. Liza or Mrs. Sandy, are they correct?


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Context Jun 19, 2008

dyranz wrote:

Hi!

I just want to know if it is okay or it is a correct usage to use Mr., Ms. or Mrs. with a first name only. Because here in Thailand, in their own language, they use that format. So, for example, Mr. George, Ms. Liza or Mrs. Sandy, are they correct?


In some parts of the U.S., children address their parents' friends or coworkers that way. But that's the only context where I've heard it.


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:35
Italian to English
+ ...
Not normal usage where I am Jun 19, 2008

Hi,
No, this is not in any way normal usage in my corner of the world (London). It is feasible that someone somewhere might use it, though.
Best,
Amy

[Edited at 2008-06-19 13:16]


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dyranz
English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jun 19, 2008

Steven Capsuto wrote:

dyranz wrote:

Hi!

I just want to know if it is okay or it is a correct usage to use Mr., Ms. or Mrs. with a first name only. Because here in Thailand, in their own language, they use that format. So, for example, Mr. George, Ms. Liza or Mrs. Sandy, are they correct?


In some parts of the U.S., children address their parents' friends or coworkers that way. But that's the only context where I've heard it.



Thanks Steven


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dyranz
English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jun 19, 2008

Amy Williams wrote:

Hi,
No, this is not in any way normal usage in my corner of the world (London). It is feasible that someone somewhere (with a butler?! (Do people still have butlers?!)) might use it, though.
Best,
Amy

[Edited at 2008-06-19 13:13]



Thanks Amy


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
It Depends Jun 19, 2008

As a general rule, no. Most of the time, it's used for identifying teachers and assistants in preschool and some special education classrooms.

When you address a woman, and you don't know if she's married or not, you're best oof using 'Ms Jones,' or whatever her last name is.

I'm reporting on what the rules are for here in the USA.


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David Earl  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:35
Member (2007)
German to English
Very old...from another time Jun 19, 2008

I have heard it from minorities, who lived through the Jim Crow era in the US when referring deferentially to white people. If one were doing a period piece (film/theater/book) set in that era or earlier (slaves), the style would probably be used to set the mood. (But in that case, I don't think they would use Ms., rather Miss for unmarried women. I think Ms. became popular due to the Women's Lib movement.)

Also, agree with Steven, about children's usage with regards to teachers, school nurses, etc. Some might teach Aunt/Uncle for close family friends in the home, or teach the kids to do the same as the adults do.


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SilviuM
Romania
Local time: 15:35
Romanian to English
+ ...
Incorrect usage Jun 19, 2008

I have to agree, sorry. 'Ms. / Mrs. Amy', for instance, is very wrong because you can't afford calling people by their first names when you don't know them at all, excepting the case of being terribly familiar with them (= tautology), and then... you don't place the politeness pronoun, of course. So, 'Ms. / Mrs. Johnson' (Amy Johnson) would be far more appropriate.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Limited - dialectical Jun 19, 2008

There is also the same problem between Spanish and English, because in Spanish the situation is the same as with Thai, but in English such usage is limited to dialectical or older versions of the language such as examples others have given, and it is not universal.

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Thorson
Local time: 14:35
Danish to English
Lot of people mistakenly do it in Korea Jun 19, 2008

In Korea, names are reversed, so many people make the mistake of calling westerners Mr. Jim or Mr. David, for example, but that's just an error.

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Stephen Gobin
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:35
German to English
+ ...
Agree with David Earl Jun 19, 2008

It can be done, but it belongs to another era completely and if you did it today people in the UK at least would not find it particularly offensive, but rather quaint, sweet, affectionate - as if you're trying to create an effect.

If there are any UK people out there who remember the 1970s ITV drama "Upstairs Downstairs", they may remember that servants below stairs referred to the son and daughter of the household as "Miss Elizabeth" and "Captain James" and the mistress of as "Lady Majorie".


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 01:35
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
names in Iran and New Zealand Jun 19, 2008

For example in Persian (Farsi), they do that.
Here in New Zealand people call each other with the first name even if they don't know each other.

I agree that it's wrong in English to call someone with Mr/Mrs/Ms/ + first name

cheers
Atena


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Carlos Umaña  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Propriety Jun 20, 2008

I agree with SilviuM. First names are used to address people informally, usually when one is acquainted with them, or if they are of a lower rank (as children in a schoolyard, or employees in some circumstances). Mr. and Ms. are used to show deference, which would logically entail that a first name would be inadequate.

This, of course, is not absolute. For example, if a housekeeper wishes to show deference to the household members, and all have the same last name, she could use Mr. William or Mr. Thomas to respectfully distinguish between two Mr. Jones.

Furthermore, some foreign countries, where it is unclear which one of the names is the last name (as appears to be the case in Thailand), saying Mr. Jim would still respectful, because the speaker is not actually aware of the informality (James and Jones sound equally strange); hence, this would be acceptable in that context.

On a final note, it is considered politically incorrect nowadays to use Mrs. and Ms. to distinguish between unmarried and married women [even if it may seem rather strange to call a little-old-grandma-looking lady by 'Miss'].


Cheers,


Carlos


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 19:35
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Indonesian English Jun 20, 2008

dyranz wrote:
I just want to know if it is okay or it is a correct usage to use Mr., Ms. or Mrs. with a first name only. Because here in Thailand, in their own language, they use that format.


It seems that Thailand and Indonesia has the same culture in this context.

My former fellow students at the English department used to say 'Ms. Amy' (her full name is Amy Johnson) to call our lecturer even though they knew the appropriate rule.:D

Realizing the Indonesian culture, she just smiled hearing it.

Warm Regards

Hipyan

[Edited at 2008-06-20 03:51]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:35
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
The Deep South Jun 20, 2008

My (British) sister lives in Louisiana, USA. She tells me that she is quite often addressed by local people as "Miss Mel" (her Christian name) and that it is a friendly local custom - I believe it's always "Miss", even if the lady is married. I don't know if the same applies to men - I mean if they are addressed as "Mr Peter". Perhaps someone can tell us?
Regards, Jenny


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