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Thread: Mam or ms?

  1. #1
    Ahmed_harbi is offline Newbie
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    Default Mam or ms?

    For an unmarried lady in her early thirties can we say mam in a formal situation Or Ms?

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    In BrE, we use Miss, which indicates that she is unmarried, or Ms, which just indicates that she is a woman and ignores her marital status. I use the latter. When addressing a woman whose name I don't know, I would use madam. It's a sensitive area and other may handle things differently.

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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahmed_harbi View Post
    For an unmarried lady in her early thirties can we say mam in a formal situation Or Ms?
    Unless I were a shop assistant being rather formal, or working in a hotel, I would never use 'Madam' or 'Miss' to any woman. I'd use their name, if I knew it, or nothing at all, if I didn't know it,

    We use ma'am (to rhyme with jam) for female officers in the police and armed services, and for the queen.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


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    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    In the US, it would be normal for a woman to be addressed as "ma'am" once she is past the "miss" stage of life.

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    LulaPace is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    I personally have never heard anyone say 'mam' or 'ma'am' in the UK. And when I found myself teaching a conversation to my Chinese students, in which somebody said, "ma'am", I admit I was a bit baffled (:

    The 'Miss' and 'Ms' thing is also a tricky area. Personally I prefer 'Ms', from a feminist point of view. But I know many people who hate the term 'Ms' and like to be called 'Miss'. What kind of formal situation are you referring to? It really depends what the situation is, I think.

    Lula

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    Quote Originally Posted by LulaPace View Post
    I personally have never heard anyone say 'mam' or 'ma'am' in the UK.
    Neither had I, but I do hear it every day here in the Philippines.

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    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    What do you say if you are walking down the street and the lady in front of you drops something from her pocket and she doesn't notice?

    "Excuse me" or "Excuse me, ma'am" would be what I would expect. If you are especially trying to get the attention of someone whose name you don't know, then a "ma'am" or "sir" would be employed. It is better than a "hey!"

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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    What do you say if you are walking down the street and the lady in front of you drops something from her pocket and she doesn't notice?
    I'd just say, "Excuse me".

    Unless it were a bundle of banknotes, in which case I might keep my mouth shut.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


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    Ahmed_harbi is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    Thank you all it is good to get different points of view.

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    Default Re: Mam or ms?

    I wouldn't use a salutation of any kind to someone whose name I didn't know. I work part-time in a shop and I would never call a customer "Madam". It sounds very old-fashioned, far too formal and it suggests a woman of a certain age.

    If someone dropped something in the street, I would shout "Excuse me" or maybe even "Scuse me love!" Most women don't mind being called "love" in the UK, as long as the person saying it is also female. Some don't mind men using it but I wouldn't recommend using it to someone you don't know.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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