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  1. #1
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    Default Addressing someone as "sir" or "mister"

    Hi,

    Is addressing someone as "mister" the same as addressing someone as "sir"? Is "sir" more respectful?

    When I watch cop shows they say something like "sir, may i see your licence and registration?". But sometimes I have seen the cop saying something like this - "hands over your head, mister" after they have chased the criminal's car in a high speed chase and forced him to stop. So, is he still addressing him with respect?

    Do people use "mister" in everyday conversation in the USA and UK?
    I don't mean as in "Mister Smith", but just "...., mister". I have seen
    kids address older people as "mister" in movies, but I want to know
    how common it is.

    In India, we use "Mr" as an honorific, but only with a name. In fact,
    many times people use it with just the first name, which I find a little
    strange. If a person's name is "John Smith", is it correct to address him or
    call him as "Mr John"? In India, people address older people or those in
    higher positions with "sir". Sometimes as "firstname sir" (John sir), which
    I think is probably not correct.

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Ouisch's Avatar
    Ouisch is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Addressing someone as "sir" or "mister"

    "Sir" is the polite form of address if you don't know a person. For example, if you see a man that you don't know drop his wallet in a parking lot, you'd call out "Sir!" to get his attention. Unless you're saying "Mister Smith" or whomever, then saying "mister" is the same thing as saying "fellow" or "guy" (much like you've seen on police TV shows).

    In the US, it is customary to address a new acquaintance as either Mister or Miss Lastname until they tell you, "call me John." In the South, it is traditional to call one's elders by the honorific and their first name, such as "Mr. John" or "Miss Sarah." For example, even though you've known your neighbor, Sam Brown, since you were a child, because he is older than you, you would never address him as "Sam." You would call him "Mr. Sam." Again, this seems to be a tradition exclusive to the southern part of the US; much of the rest of our country is more informal.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Addressing someone as "sir" or "mister"

    Thank you for all this information. I am happy to know all this.
    It is good to know that "Mr John" is not wrong. I used to think
    it is wrong because I thought "Mr" is to be used only with lastname.

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Addressing someone as "sir" or "mister"

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch View Post
    "Sir" is the polite form of address if you don't know a person. For example, if you see a man that you don't know drop his wallet in a parking lot, you'd call out "Sir!" to get his attention. Unless you're saying "Mister Smith" or whomever, then saying "mister" is the same thing as saying "fellow" or "guy" (much like you've seen on police TV shows).
    In the UK, "Sir" is, as you say, the polite form of address if you don't know a person. But to get someone's attention, something like 'Excuse me' or 'Is this yours?', or 'I think you've dropped your wallet' would be more natural.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch View Post
    In the US, it is customary to address a new acquaintance as either Mister or Miss Lastname until they tell you, "call me John." In the South, it is traditional to call one's elders by the honorific and their first name, such as "Mr. John" or "Miss Sarah." For example, even though you've known your neighbor, Sam Brown, since you were a child, because he is older than you, you would never address him as "Sam." You would call him "Mr. Sam." Again, this seems to be a tradition exclusive to the southern part of the US; much of the rest of our country is more informal.
    Maybe this tradition accounts for a student I had who insisted on calling me 'Mr Bob'.

    b

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