Business Letter Writing: Mrs, Miss or Ms?
How should you address a woman when you write a letter or email to her? Will she be offended if you write "Dear Madam" or "Dear Mrs + surname"?
Over the last few years, there have been some changes in standard greetings, and here are some general guidelines to help you choose between the three standard titles: Mrs, Miss, Ms.
Mrs, Miss, Ms?
The old distinction between married ("Mrs + surname") and unmarried ("Miss + surname") is generally irrelevant in business letters. As it doesn't matter if a woman is married or not, use "Ms + surname". Ms is pronounced (Mizz) and is used for all women.
"Dear Ms Jones"
Ms vs Mrs
If you are replying to a letter in which the woman has written her name as "Mrs + surname", then it is fine to reply to her using "Mrs + her surname".
"Dear Mrs Jones
Thank you for your letter..."
However, as explained above, if you receive a letter where the first name and surname are given, reply with "Dear Ms + surname".
"Dear Ms Jones".
We don't generally write "Dear Miss + surname" to women - unless they have already written to you and ended their letter with this title. So if you receive a letter from a woman who has signed it "Miss + surname", you can also use "Miss + surname" in your reply.
"Dear Miss Jones
Thank you for your enquiry about ..."
If you are writing to a person in a company whose name you don't know, you can start with "Dear Sir / Madam". (This is because you don't know if you're writing to a man or a woman.)
"Dear Sir / Madam
I'm enclosing my CV for your attention..."
If you know for sure that the person is a woman (but you don't know her name) you can write "Dear Madam".
Avoid these other mistakes
1. Don't write "Dear Mrs" on it own without any name afterwards. Remember: after titles like Mr, Mrs or Ms, we need a surname.
2. Don't write "Dear Ms", "Dear Miss" or "Dear Mrs" followed by the first name.
3. Don't write "Dear Madame".
I would like to learn spoken english through your website.
I love english
THank you very much, this website is quiet helpful!!! MUch apprecaited
that is fantastic and useful
Miss Di Dio
All terms, or titles, are well defined here providing clear knowledge and understanding for correct pronunciation and proper contextual application. Very pleased and much appreciated.
I appreciate this site and all people working behind the scene to give us these valuable knowledge. I consider English At Home as a backbone to improve the English for anybody. Finally, thank you all for that great effort to help non-native speakers to get better language.