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    #1

    How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their names

    In India we would address strangers as aunty/uncle bro/sis etc...how to address them especially when we dont know their name in American setting ? i want agewise addressing etiquette .Another situation where i felt uncomfortable is ... my bro who stays in usa was once on phone ...he asked me to talk to his neighbor and handed over the phone saying my brother will speak to you ... we started the conversation .... i dint know what to call/address him ...we dint exchange our names ! i felt like asking him " what should i call you" but i dint as i felt it might be rude to ask directly !! what is the ideal conversation etiquette in this situation ?!! is it ok to ask him "what should i call you?".... how should i start the conversation in this situation ?is it ok to ask people what they would like to be addressed as? if so what is the correct formal polite phrase to be used?
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 29-Aug-2015 at 22:34. Reason: Enlarging font.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    Certainly "aunty", "uncle", "bro", and "sis" won't work in America for strangers. Part of this depends on your age and the age of the stranger. How old are you?

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    I realise that the question about American practice, but I don't think that British practice is that different these days. If someone is introduced to me as Percival/Mr Postule/Dr Postule/Major Postule, etc, then that is how I address them. If they prefer to be addressed in a different way, then it's up to them to tell me.

    If I haven't been introduced to them, then I don't use any form of address. It is important in many cultures to use some equivalent of sir/madam/miss/etc, when addressing a stranger.This is not the case in British English normally, though some wait staff, shop assistants, police officers and customs officials do so.

    Despite a rather formal upbringing, I introduce myself to people of all ages by my first name, and that is the way I want people to address me. But woe betide a police officer or customs/immigration official who, after looking at my ID, presumes to address me by my first name.

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    #4

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    Quote Originally Posted by arihant9n View Post
    I felt like asking him, " What should I call you?," but I didn't as I felt it might be rude.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    As the teacher said, do NOT use the terms "aunty" or "uncle." Neither should you use the terms "bro" or "sister." In some circumstances, those terms would be highly offensive.

    Why don't you just ask, "May I ask your name?" If the answer is "John Doe," then you could either refer to him as "John" or "Mr. Doe." If you are a twentysomething, and he is in his 50s, it might be a good idea to first address him as "Mr. Doe" until he says, "Call me 'John.' " If both of you are young, then it would probably be a good idea to refer to him as "John."

    On the other hand, if you are being introduced to a mature woman, it might be a good idea (even in 2015!) to address her as "Ms. Jones" until she says, "Call me 'Mona.' "

    By the way, if you are talking with an American company and want to know the name of the employee with whom you are speaking, just ask (in a very courteous manner) something like "May I please know who(m) I'm speaking with?" You may need to refer to that person in future dealings with that company.
    Last edited by TheParser; 29-Aug-2015 at 21:23.

  3. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    If the answer is "John Doe," then you could either refer to him as "John" or "Mr. Doe." If you are a twentysomething, and he is in his 50s, it might be a good idea to first address him as "Mr. Doe" until he says, "Call me 'John.'
    Wise advice. You cannot offend anyone if you follow it, in my opinion.

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    #6

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    . How old are you?
    Sir I am 26 . thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I realise that the question about American practice, but I don't think that British practice is that different these days. If someone is introduced to me as Percival/Mr Postule/Dr Postule/Major Postule, etc, then that is how I address them. If they prefer to be addressed in a different way, then it's up to them to tell me.

    If I haven't been introduced to them, then I don't use any form of address. It is important in many cultures to use some equivalent of sir/madam/miss/etc, when addressing a stranger.This is not the case in British English normally, though some wait staff, shop assistants, police officers and customs officials do so.

    Despite a rather formal upbringing, I introduce myself to people of all ages by my first name, and that is the way I want people to address me. But woe betide a police officer or customs/immigration official who, after looking at my ID, presumes to address me by my first name.
    thanks for the reply sir . so if we introduce ourselves by our first name , it wont be formal? or the rule is the way you would like to be called ...introduce yourself that way? i cant introduce with my full name(first+last name) as it is very long...i prefer just using first name...so it wont be polite in a formal setting to introduce yourself with first name ?
    if the stranger is of my age (26) ...obviously i cant call him sir...how should i address him? what about younger people (age14 to 20) how to address ?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    As the teacher said, do NOT use the terms "aunty" or "uncle." Neither should you use the terms "bro" or "sister." In some circumstances, those terms would be highly offensive.

    Why don't you just ask, "May I ask your name?" If the answer is "John Doe," then you could either refer to him as "John" or "Mr. Doe." If you are a twentysomething, and he is in his 50s, it might be a good idea to first address him as "Mr. Doe" until he says, "Call me 'John.' " If both of you are young, then it would probably be a good idea to refer to him as "John."

    On the other hand, if you are being introduced to a mature woman, it might be a good idea (even in 2015!) to address her as "Ms. Jones" until she says, "Call me 'Mona.' "

    By the way, if you are talking with an American company and want to know the name of the employee with whom you are speaking, just ask (in a very courteous manner) something like "May I please know who(m) I'm speaking with?" You may need to refer to that person in future dealings with that company.
    thank you sir. i was wondering as during a conversation we cant always keep repeating Mr.Doe (age-50)...can we start the conversation with Mr.Doe and replace it with Sir for the remaining part of the conversation? If the person is of my age(26) .. still addressing as Mr.doe wont be overly polite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Wise advice. You cannot offend anyone if you follow it, in my opinion.
    sure will keep in mind sir!!

    again i dont know how to address you people in this online setting as i dont know anything about .I am using Sir, hope its fine . !

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    If you are in Britain, don't address people as 'sir' or 'madam/miss' unless you are required to do so as part of your job. Address younger people by the name they give you. If they say their name is 'John/Jane Doe', then use their first name.

    In this forum, refer to us or address us by the name we give ourselves. That is always correct.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    In the US, a man of 26 could easily address an older man as Sir or an older woman as Miss or Ma'am. It is considered polite and is quite normal. Once the two people are introduced, real names could be used.

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    #9

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    Please start using capital letters in your posts, especially the pronoun "I," and please write in sentences that end with periods, not two or three dots.

    You rarely use a person's name more than once in a conversation. I would not expect you to start every sentence with my name.

    As a young man of 26, call anyone under 20 by their first name.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 30-Aug-2015 at 15:21.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #10

    Re: How should I address strangers as in the American society if I don't know their n

    arihant9n, please read these rules on written English:

    - Start every sentence with a capital letter.
    - End every sentence with a single appropriate punctuation mark.
    - Always capitalise the word "I".
    - Capitalise all proper nouns (English, London, Shakespeare etc).
    - Do not put a space before a full stop, comma, question mark or exclamation mark.
    - Always put a space after a full stop, comma, question mark or exclamation mark.
    (emsr2d2)

    (Cross-posted with Barb.)

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