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Dear Mrs… or is it Ms. or Miss?: How to Address Women in Letters

Question: “I’m writing an e-mail right now and I do not know if that lady is married or not. How should I call her? Mrs. Miss or Madam?”

Answer: This is a confusing issue even for native English speakers. The response is simple:

  • Mrs. is to address married women.
  • Ms. is to address women who are unmarried or women who choose to use it. Believe it or not, some women don’t think they should have to identify their marital status to strangers. In fact, one reader from illustrates this cultural point below:

But why should women have to let that be known? After all, men do not! Let’s show equality in this idea of using titles! Therefore, to be equal and politically correct, we should all use Ms. for women.

This may not be extremely common, but this is proof that it exists.

  • Ms. and Miss are interchangeable, but a key pronunciation note is that Ms. has the “z” sound on the end of it.
  • Widows usually prefer Mrs. while divorced women tend to use Ms. Here’s an interesting discussion on the topic:

Return from Dear Mrs… or Ms. or Miss?: How to Address Women in Letters to Grammar

  • Bert says:

    Your answer could be improved.
    The question was about an unknown marital status.
    You addressed situations where women are clearly married, where women are clearly unmarried, and where “women choose to use” something (Ms.), but you did not address the situation where the marital status is unknown and the woman’s choice to use or not use Ms. is also unknown.

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