Use of Mrs. vs. Ms.: Honorific for a Married Woman?
I am married and took my husband’s family name. At work I use ‘Ms. Ann Wells’, but some of my married coworkers want to be ‘Mrs. (Woman’s Given Name)+(Family Name)’.
I like Ms. at work because I think it’s odd to state my marital status – since when they use Mr. the men don’t state their marital status. But I do admit that sometimes, like when I am speaking to my kids’ teachers, it seems odd to be Ms. Wells.
—-—-—-—-– Ms./Mrs. Ann Wells
Dear Ms./Mrs. Wells: Use of Mrs. vs.Ms.
I observe married women use various honorifics depending on the situation.
—-#1) ‘Ms. (Her Given Name)+(Family Name)’ … where their marital status is not pertinent but they want to specify an honorific. Using Ms. implies they are not to be automatically on a first-name basis and prefer to be formally addressed in conversation as ‘Ms. (Surname)’. Many women (both married and single) use this form at work. I observe more younger women use Ms. all the time – perhaps since they’ve grown up with Ms. – than do older women.
—-#2) ‘Mrs. (Husband’s first name) (Family Name)’ …. in formal situations or when you are involved as a spouse/part of a couple. This definitely implies that others will call you Mrs. Surname. Widows are formally addressed as ‘Mrs. (husband’s first name) (Family Name)’ (unless they remarry) for the rest of their lives if they choose to be.
—-#3) ‘Mrs. (Her Given Name)+(Family Name)’ …is often the choice of women in the context of being a Mom – dealing with schoolteachers (as you do), pediatricians, etc. This form provides the given name for those with whom they would be on a first-name basis. Part of presenting your name is giving guidance to the other person as what you want to be called in conversation.
[Another note about ‘Mrs. (Her Given Name)+(Family Name)’: Traditional etiquette references state that using ‘Mrs. + (Woman’s Given name) + (Family name)’ is the form used by a divorced woman. She wants to keep using her former husband’s family name, but can no longer use ‘Mrs. (Husband’s Given Name) (Family Name)’ because her former husband might have remarried and there would be a new ‘Mrs. (Husband’s Given Name) (Family Name)’. Thus, she uses her given name with Mrs. But some still married women don’t care what was ‘traditional’ in etiquette books and like to use Mrs. … thus stating their marital status and including their given name.]
—-#4) (Woman’s Given Name)+(Family Name) …. is casual. Not every situation is formal and there is nothing wrong with casual. You also use this form when signing your own name: One never gives oneself an honorific in a signature.
To me – you are all of those names at different times. You choose the one that’s right for the circumstance, and if someone addressed you incorrectly just correct them. It’s that easy.
One of the basics of forms of address is that your name belongs to you …. and EVERYONE is entitled to be addressed as they prefer!
– Robert Hickey Use of Mrs. vs.Ms.