Dear ladies, gentlemen, and children, we often feel confused with properly greeting and addressing people. How should I address a woman if I don’t know her marital status? Can I address people just by their last name? How to formally greet someone? Let me release you from these doubts.

Formal greeting & addressing

When you meet someone new, under social or business circumstances, it’s important to know how to greet &address; the individual standing in front of you. Properly greeting &addressing; people in different situations shows you’re respectful of their position and mindful of not offending them in any way.

Formal greeting

For formal greeting in English, I am representing you 2 sentence patterns that you may use. Beware, you need to use complete sentences in formal occasions.

Unfamiliar last name

In case we are not sure how to address the person we should formally address him/her with Sir or Madam no matter what age they are.

Familiar last name

Unless told otherwise, when you know, use the person’s last name along with the title when you meet them:

Mr(“Mister”) + last name (any man) 

Mrs(“Miss”) + last name (married woman who uses her husband’s last name)

Miss(“Miss”) + last name (unmarried woman)

Dr (“Doctor”)+ last name (some doctors go by Dr+ first name) – medical or academic.

Ms(“Miss”) + last name (married or unmarried woman; very common in business) 

If the person you’readdressing feels this is too formal, they will let you know. In case you aren’t sure how to address someone, use formal address first and then ask them if they prefer something else.

Professional titles

If you are addressing someone with a specific profession, keep in mind that their titles are related to their profession.

Professor+ last name.

Nobility titles

In case you have the honor to meet with king or queen you should use the following titles: Your Majesty

In case you have the honor to meet with someone who has nobility titles. The rules are as following: 

To a man, you need to say « Lord+family name »

To a woman, you need to say « Lady+family name »

“My Lord” is only for bishops 

Official titles

Only address the officials with “President”, “Deputy”, “Minister”, etc.

For ambassadors, you should address them with  “ambassador”, or “Your Excellency”

« Mister President », or « President + name », or « Mister President + name » is not proper.

Informal greeting & addressing

We may informally greet our friends, close colleagues, family members and anyone else with who we are close with.

Close or casual relationship requires an informal form of address:

First name

Miss/Mr + first name

Dear all, from now I hope you’ll never meet that situation in which you don’t know how to greet&address; other people. For further questions, I am more than happy to answer! Please comment!