Miss or Mrs. – What’s the Difference?

As you know, there are many titles in English by which we can refer to each other. Most of the time, it is considered respectful to call males by the title Mr. and females by Miss or Mrs.

But which is which? Why do females have more options than males? Continue reading to learn more.

What is the Difference Between Miss and Mrs.?

In this article, I will compare Miss vs. Mrs. I will use each title in example sentences, and following that, I will show you a mnemonic device to remember the best times to use each one.

When to Use Mrs.

miss versus mrs. What does Mrs. mean? Mrs. is a title for a married woman. It should be followed by the woman’s last name, like Mrs. Robinson or Mrs. Doubtfire. Mrs. is an appropriately respectful title for married women regardless of age.

Here are a few example sentences,

  • When you get to the building, speak with Mrs. Kemper at the front desk, and she will get you a visitor’s tag.
  • After she married her husband, Miss Engle insisted that we only call her Mrs. Redenbacher.
  • Fritz began her literary career by writing conventional fiction “picture books” for children, but she turned to history when she realized “the facts were more exciting to me than my own stories.” –The Washington Post

Mrs. is technically an abbreviation of mistress, although today mistress has taken on unsavory connotations. It has been a common title in English since the 16th century.

When spoken out loud, Mrs. is pronounced like misses, and it rhymes with kisses.

When to Use Miss

Definition of mrs. definition and definition of miss definitionWhat does Miss mean? Like Mrs., Miss is a feminine title. It is used for unmarried women, or occasionally in informal contexts with wait staff or other workers in the service industry.

For example,

  • Our daughter’s preschool teacher, Miss Barton, caught the bouquet at our wedding.
  • “Excuse me, Miss, could you please bring us some more coffee?” George asked the waitress at the diner.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define mrs. and define missIf you aren’t sure when to use Mrs. or Miss, you can use the following trick as a helpful reminder.

Mrs. vs. Miss Check: Since Mrs. and married both contain the letter R, you can use it to remember that Mrs. refers to married women. As long as you know whether or not a woman is married, it will be easy to choose a title that shows the proper respect.

But what if you don’t know whether a woman is married? The male title Mr. is used for either married or unmarried men. For women, Ms. (which rhymes with fizz) is the female equivalent of Mr.

Even some married women prefer Ms., deciding that a marriage to a man should have no bearing on their own names. Unless you know for sure a married woman feels this way, though, Mrs. is probably a safe bet.

Additionally, if a woman has another title, like Dr., you should use it instead, regardless of whether or not she is married.

Summary

Is it Mrs. or Miss? Mrs. and Miss are titles for women.

  • Mrs. refers to a married woman.
  • Miss refers to an unmarried women.
  • Ms., the female equivalent of the male Mr., can be used for either married or unmarried women.

Additionally, when women have earned a higher title (like Dr.), it is always more respectful to use it instead of Miss or Mrs.

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