When should I use Ms, Mrs, Miss, Ma’am

Four different titles are commonly used for women: Miss, Mrs., Ms., and ma'am. Knowing when to use each title can be difficult. Please note that ma'am does not have a capital ‘M’, while all the other titles do. The Chicago Manual of Style

Use of ‘Miss’

Use ‘Miss’ with a complete name when you address a card to a young girl or young unmarried woman.
  • Miss Miriam Garcia
  • Miss Naomi Rodriguez
  • Miss Rosa Gutierrez
Use ‘Miss’ without a name when speaking to young female service workers.
  • Excuse me, Miss.
  • Could you help me, Miss?
  • Thank you, Miss.
This is appropriate for servers in restaurants, clerks working in a store, receptionists, salespeople, etc. Please note that is appropriate ONLY if the service worker is your age or younger than you.

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Use of ‘ma'am’

Use ‘ma'am’ without a name when speaking to older female service workers. This shows respect for their age.
  • I beg your pardon, ma'am.
  • Could you help me, ma'am?
  • I would appreciate your help, ma'am.
Use ‘ma'am’ when you are speaking to a woman who is older than you or to a woman who has a position of authority and when you don't know the woman's name.
  • I'm very pleased to meet you, ma'am.
  • Thank you for agreeing to see me, ma'am?
  • Yes, ma'am. I understand.

Use of ‘Mrs.’

The title ‘Mrs.’ is used for married women. If a man introduces his wife to you, if the woman is younger than you, and if the man tells you his wife's name, only the name is usually acceptable.
  • Mr. Smith: This is my wife, Lucy.
  • You: It's a pleasure to meet you, Lucy.
If a man introduces his wife to you and if the woman is older than you, use Mrs. and the husband's surname.
  • Mr. Smith: This is my wife, Lucy.
  • You: It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Smith

Use of ‘Ms.’

If a woman is unmarried, but not young, she might not wish to call attention to her unmarried status. In this case, you may want to use the title, Ms. This title can be used for both unmarried and married women!
  • Ms. Miriam Garcia
  • Ms. Naomi Rodriguez
  • Ms. Rosa Gutierrez
If you are speaking to or referring to a woman and you know the woman's surname, use Ms. and the surname if (a) the woman has a position of authority, (b) you don't know the woman's marital status, or (c) the woman is your age or older than you:
  • I have an appointment with Ms. Garcia
  • Ms. Rodriguez is the District Manager.
  • I need to speak with you, Ms. Gutierrez
Modern Language Association Style Guide

Example sentences using ‘Ms.’ and ‘Mrs.’

  • May I talk to Ms. White?
  • Mrs. Brown was a very good cook.
  • Is Mrs. Perez an English teacher?
  • Mrs. May goes to church by car.
  • Mrs. Perez is teaching computer science.
  • My teacher is Mrs. Rodrigez.
  • How do you do, Mrs. Cabrera?
  • Mrs. White cleans that room.
  • Do you understand Mrs. Laper?
  • Mrs. Lane is very attractive.
  • Mrs. Green is an elderly lady.
  • Mrs. Quiroa, do you have a job?
  • Mrs. Kahmann was a famous beauty.
  • Ms. Tanika can type, can't she?
  • Mrs. Brown had her purse stolen.
  • Mrs. Baker understands Japanese.
  • Ms. Blane is our English teacher.
  • Ms. Yato teaches us English.
  • I had a class with Mrs. White.
  • Mrs. Moreau is our English teacher.
  • Mrs. Clinton, this is John White, he is the bag man for our political party.
  • Mrs. Clinton seems to be a liar.
  • We met Mrs. Roen at the theater.

Example sentences using ‘ma'am’

  • I don't mean to be disrespectful, ma'am, but when we spoke on the telephone, I offered you the money.
  • Ma'am, your kid is the one who stole the gun.
  • Ma'am, you stick close to these men.
  • "I am very sorry, ma'am," answered the maid.
  • "Excuse me, ma'am," the boy called out in a quiet, nervous voice.
  • "He's come, ma'am," whispered the nurse.
  • "Not much since being strung up by a savage at the bottom of the mountain, ma'am" Dan replied.
  • "Pleased to meet you, ma'am," Fred said as Betty pushed upright and waved a greeting.
  • Ma'am, that's a three hour drive.
  • Would you mind stepping over here ma'am, so I can help you up on this magnificent animal?

Proper use of ‘Ms.’ and ‘Mrs.’

  • Mrs. Dubois is our English teacher.
  • The room is cleaned by Mrs. Benard. We elected Ms. Thomas chairperson.
  • Mrs. Petit was very good at cooking.
  • "Yes. I understand," says Mrs. Richard.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Durand are a good match.
  • Mrs. Leroy wrote a book on politics.
  • Mrs. Moreau is really good at tennis.
  • Ms. Simon was appointed chairperson.
  • Was Ms. Michel your teacher last year?
  • Ms. Fournier greeted him with a smile.
  • Next, we will talk to Ms. Pam Vincent.
  • The woman on the bench is Mrs. Bertrand.
  • Mrs. Roux asked me to go to the city.
  • Mrs. Morel pushed her son to study hard.
  • The butler announced Mr. and Mrs. Girard.
  • I want to ask you something, Ms. Andre.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Lefevre are on their honeymoon.
  • Mrs. Mercier is very proud of her children.
  • Do you agree with Dr. Dupont or Ms. Lambert?
  • Mrs. Bonnet gave birth to her second child.
  • Mrs. Francois is busy getting breakfast ready.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Martinez talked to Ken's teacher.
  • Mrs. Legrand was anything but a perfect wife.
  • Ms. Faure, I'd like to ask you something.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Blanc will come home next month.

Use of ‘Ms’ and ‘Miss’ in American English

This Ngram indicates the use of ‘Ms’ and ‘Miss’ in American books, journals, and magazines published from 1800 to 2000.

Use of ‘Ms’ and ‘Miss’ in British English

This Ngram indicates the use of ‘Ms’ and ‘Miss’ in British books, journals, and magazines published from 1800 to 2000.

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