Question about addressing a woman

  1. I am writing a thank you note to an asst director of a department at the hospital where I will hopefully find employment when I graduate. She helped me gather information for a community project that I am doing in school.

    But ... here's the question ... I don't know how to address her in the letter. I don't know if she is a Mrs. or a Miss. Is it appropriate to use Ms. if you don't know?

    Seems like a silly question, but I want to make a good impression!
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   duckie
    Why not call the place you're sending it to "confirm" the address and say, "Now is that Miss or Mrs.?" I'm certain someone working with her can confirm the info you need. Just a thought.
  4. by   llg
    Yes, if you don't know, the best option is usually "Ms." It is always correct ... unless of course, she is a "Dr.," which I doubt. There aren't that many PhD's working in hospitals.

    Thanks for asking. As someone who is usually addressed by the wrong title, I do appreciate it when someone makes the effort to use the correct one.

    By the way, my correct title is "Dr." and I am not married. So I always wonder why people so often address me as "Mrs.," which is wrong on both counts. I rarely, if ever, correct anyone because I don't want to sound too "uppity." However, I do take notice of the fact that they hadn't bothered to check who I was or to at least use the neutral "Ms." prefix.

    Good luck!
    llg
  5. by   CountrifiedRN
    Well, I thought of that, but she is in an area that our class has not done a rotation in, and I don't know anyone who works with her. I have her direct extension, which states her first and last name, and I tried asking the switchboard operator when I called to get the address, but she did not know either.

    Thanks for the suggestion Duckie!

    Editing because I just saw llg's post. Thanks for the info! I always try to address people by the correct title, and have not had occasion to use Ms. I actually wasn't even sure if it is still used all that often. Thank you Dr. llg!
    Last edit by CountrifiedRN on Jan 30, '03
  6. by   colleen10
    Hi RN2B,

    A good rule of thumb is, unless the person is a Dr. , etc.

    Mrs. is for married women

    Miss is for young women

    Ms. is for women not married or divorced but still usuing husbands last name.

    If you do not know whether the person is married or not and they are not a young Miss, it is ok to use Ms.
  7. by   sunnygirl272
    i would take the easy way out:
    buy a nice thank youcard, addressed to herfull name at mailing work address...but as far as the insid eof the card...write a personal note, buit avoid usage of miss mrs ms altogether...heehee
  8. by   Stargazer
    Originally posted by colleen10
    Hi RN2B,

    A good rule of thumb is, unless the person is a Dr. , etc.

    Mrs. is for married women

    Miss is for young women

    Ms. is for women not married or divorced but still usuing husbands last name.

    If you do not know whether the person is married or not and they are not a young Miss, it is ok to use Ms.
    I'm sorry, I don't agree with this at all. "Ms." is always correct for a woman of ANY marital status and ANY age, which is why it is so particularly useful in business settings. Making assumptions about women's marital status (which is not relevant in a business setting, anyway) based on her age, is a sure way to eventually (or immediately) offend someone you'd rather not offend.

    If she then indicates a preference of "Miss" or "Mrs.", by all means follow her lead.
  9. by   Hooligan
    Just for clarification...

    Ms. came about from a feminist perspective. You see...when addressing a man by Mr. So and So, you have no idea of his marital status he could be single or married. For women it was different...Mrs. = married woman Miss = unmarried woman. With Ms. there is no indication of marital status. Many women find this to be helpful in the business world where marital status can sometimes be wrongly used as a basis for judging a womans capability and priorities. Hope this clears things up for you!

    ~Bean
  10. by   Stargazer
    Actually, I thought the same thing, bean, but according to this Salon.com article, the use of "Ms." pre-dates the feminist movement by quite a bit.
    ...modern feminists did not come up with Ms. in the first place. The title's earliest documented appearance was on the 1767 tombstone of a Massachusetts woman named Sarah Spooner. Some scholars have theorized that it was first used, like Miss and Mrs., as an abbreviation for Mistress, a 14th century translation of the French maitresse (a term of respect for women of prestige).
    In the 1940s...it was appearing in secretarial handbooks as a counterpart to Mr. Second-wave feminists embraced it, and in the debut issue of Ms. magazine in 1972, the editors explained the title: "Ms. is being adopted as a standard form of address by women who want to be recognized as individuals, rather than being identified by their relationship with a man."
    Learned something new today.
  11. by   colleen10
    Star gazer, please read my message again. I state that when you do not know the person's status you should use Ms.

    Anymore, even is a person is married you can't be sure that they are even using their husbands name or a hyphenated version either.

    Thus, you should use Ms.

    "In an increasingly egalitarian culture, with more women marrying later (or not marrying at all) and retaining their birth names after marriage, Ms. is more fitting than ever. It's equally useful for divorced women who shed their married names. "
    Last edit by colleen10 on Jan 30, '03
  12. by   Lausana
    Originally posted by Stargazer
    Learned something new today.
    Yeah me too, where the term mistress came from--veery interesting

    I use Ms. at work all the time...Being called Ms. is appropriate for any age...now, M'am is a whole different story! :chuckle
  13. by   llg
    Originally posted by Lausana
    Yeah me too, where the term mistress came from--veery interesting

    I use Ms. at work all the time...Being called Ms. is appropriate for any age...now, M'am is a whole different story! :chuckle
    I remember the first time I was called M'aam. It was by a "bag boy" at the grocery store and I was in my early 20's. It definitely was a shock!

    llg
  14. by   shelby88669
    I just finished tech writing and the proper thing is "Ms" if you dont know --hope it helps you a little

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