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Social Titles

Social Titles

Alternative flash content


Social Titles

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn the social titles in English. There are many social titles in English. Most are used in formal settings, when addressing people for the first time or addressing a professional in a given field. Each social title acts almost in place of someone's first name, so we omit the use of social titles when using both first and last names.

There are four common social titles which every person may be referred to as. Let us look now at the most common social, or “courtesy”, titles.

“Mister” or the abbreviated “Mr.” is a formal male title for both married and unmarried men. It is used to address men in a formal way, such as in the sentence “Hello, Mr. Jones”. “Ms.” is a formal female title, and is used differently depending on where you are.  

Is it used to address any woman in a formal way, especially when you are unsure if she is married or unmarried. “Missus” or the abbreviated “Mrs.” is a formal title for married females. It is used to address married women in a formal way, such as in the sentence “Hello, Mrs. Jones”.

To greet a married couple, you may say “Hello. Mr. and Mrs. Jones”. “Miss” is a formal title for unmarried females and young girls, and is used to address them in a formal way, such as in the sentence “Hello, Miss Jones”.

This could be the Jones' unmarried daughter, for example. These common social titles also fall under the bracket of “courtesy” titles. That is, we use them to address somebody out of politeness or social convention. Not being knowledgeable or sensitive of their proper use can be offensive so it is important that you pair the right social title with the right person..

The common social titles are dropped if an academic or professional titles is used. Professional titles are very common in English. We often refer to people by their occupation followed by their surname.

For example, a doctor will normally be called “Doctor Smith” or the abbreviated “Dr. Smith” rather than “Mr. Smith” or “Ms. Smith”. A judge is often called “Judge Hanson” rather than “Mr. Hansen” or “Ms. Hansen”. Other examples of professional titles are police officers, such as “Officer Teague”, or pilots, such as “Captain Stokes”. Titles for heads of state, legislative titles, and elected officials are also commonplace. We refer to elected chairmen as “Chairman Jones” or “President Cook”. Do not consider this list of titles exhaustive; there are titles for many professions.

Great! Now that you know the common social titles in English, you will be polite and courteous to any you may meet on your journeys!