Friday, October 21, 2011

Grammar Friday - Mr., Mrs., and Ms.

Or is it Ms?
(Can you see what the difference is?)

Mr. is an abbreviation for Mister. 

Mrs. is an abbreviation for Mistress (not an adulterous woman).

Mr. doesn't identify marital status.

Miss identifies an unmarried woman.

Mrs. identifies a married woman or a widow.

Ms. / Ms  is not an abbreviation for anything.
So should you use a period at the end or not?

Since it's not an abbreviation you don't have to. However, it is also appropriate to add one if you wish.

The key here is consistency.
Pick one way of doing it and stick with it.

That way people think you know what you're doing.

Do you have a preference? Why?

36 comments:

  1. Hmmm. Good question. I don't use Ms very often, but I'm pretty sure I don't put a period after it just for that very reason.

    I have another question, how many authors out there use Ms a lot in their writing?

    I write a lot of historical, so not much call for it.

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  2. I've never thought of it before, really.

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  3. I use Ms. To me, visually it just looks consistent with the others ...

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  4. I'm pretty sure I saw someone, somewhere (maybe on Absolute Write) say, with pretty good authority, that you didn't need periods after any of them, but that just looks wrong to me.

    I haven't used 'Ms.' in my MS, but I would probably stick the period in.

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  5. I hadn't ever thought about it like that. Makes sense that it wouldn't NEED a period, but somehow it does seem more consistent to use one. I think you just sent me into a grammatical crisis. :P

    Have a great weekend, Donna.

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  6. Diane, this issue actually came for me with a WIP vs work. At work we use Ms. for consistency, as Joanne suggested, with the other two titles. In my WIP I chose to use Ms to keep the two separate. Probably doesn't make any sense to the rest of you, but it's a subtle separation from my two jobs.

    Jeff, grammar is constantly changing. I don't hyphenate email. Haven't in forever.

    No crisis, L.G. because either way is right! Gotta love that.

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  7. Whoa, I'd never thought about this before! I always just automatically use a period with Ms.

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  8. I have always put it as Ms. because if someone has transitioned from Miss to Ms, she probably wishes she was married or has determined to screw the institution of marriage, which generally makes her a bit older and I think earns her to right to the Ms.

    Surely I can't be the only one who creates a theoretical background story for validating the grammar...right?

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  9. I guess I always use Ms. when I don't know if a woman is married or not.

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  10. Very interesting. I didn't know all of this about the Ms. VS Ms

    Very good to know. I don't know if I have a preference. I think I am just glad to know and now I have to pick one! :)

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  11. i like Ms.
    it's the ambiguous/mysterious woman's title saying my marital status is NOYB - just like Mr.

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  12. Since Miss is falling out of favor, I pretty much done' use that EXCEPT for this: I grew up in Louisiana so all adult women are referred to as "Miss Firstname." Like Miss Melanie. So that's how my kids call close female friends. Except my 3 y.o. who calls them "so-and-so's mom."

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  13. Stephanie, I think a lot of people do it that way.

    Tashs, in my romance WIP, my MC has a couple of imaginary "friends", Miss Romantic and Ms Practical.

    Alex, that's exactly why Ms came about.

    Abby, I know, right? Decisions, decisions.

    Tara, isn't funny that a guy not wanting people to know his marital status isn't ambiguous or mysterious?

    Melanie, it can be such a sensitive issue.

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  14. Ms. really doesn't stand for anything? I was told (in elementary school) that Ms. was used for (usually) for a woman who was unmarried, but didn't want to be called Miss.

    Or I guess it's used so that they don't know what you are.

    Thanks for posting!

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  15. Mel, it was specifically created to provide a female title that didn't identify marital status. Kind of women's lib for titles.

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  16. I always use the period b/c it looks wrong if I don't!

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  17. Heaven help me,I'm still trying to figure out where the commas go. Copy editors sleep well and secure due to me alone.

    Actually,I never thought about it either, always use Ms. in correspondence. I guess, cause it is consistent with Mr. and Mrs. I can't imagine that I would use it in a MS, other than reproducing a letter.

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  18. I never knew I had an option! I've just been using Ms. because I thought that was correct. Thanks for the clarification (I swear, I learn something new every day...)

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  19. Donna, you're always educating us. :) I didn't know you could do either with Ms. See, I use the period after it. Mainly I think for consistency. I use it at work quite a bit because we don't personally know half our clients and to me Ms. looks more professional than making the faux pas of calling Mrs. ?? Miss and insulting them.

    BTW, I'm rooting for Miss Romantic to win in the inner battle for Lyn's heart/mind. :D

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  20. Laura, yep, but I frequently see it without the period.

    faraway, I don't even want to touch commas. They're a bear. But eventually ...

    Jess, see! Now your options have been broadened. ^_^

    Melanie, you know who wins. Or rather, who dies. ;)

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  21. I'm on the add-a-period-after-Ms page. Leaving it off looks wrong.

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  22. Funny story. I learned the difference between the three back in elementary school when I read a manners book. It's proved to be most useful.

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  23. I haven't used it or thought about it, but I reckon I'd add the period. It may not be an abbreviation, but it sure looks like it should be.

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  24. Ev, it does, doesn't it?

    McKenzie, for older people it just kinda snuck up them when they weren't looking. Suddenly there was another work for someone to be offended about. =D

    Botanist, it will be interesting to see if over the years one wins out over the other.

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  25. "Ms. / Ms is not an abbreviation for anything.
    So should you use a period at the end or not?"

    Is this a double negative or a Halloween trick or a linky-dinky meme challenge? Does this have to do with underwear? If yes, then it needs a period. Whoops, I can't believe I just wrote this.

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  26. well since english is my second language this is actually quite helpful for me haha

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  27. I've always used a period after Ms. Interesting to think about. It isn't short for anything which is too bad.

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  28. I use the period after Ms. because I thought you were supposed to. :D

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  29. Great examples, Donna! How fun! :)

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  30. Good post and nice way to show it.

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  31. In real life, I usually use Ms. (with the period) if I'm referring to a woman, since it leaves the marital status unknown. When I'm writing, as most of it is in Science Fiction/Fantasy, I end up using other titles instead.

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  32. With only 140 characters available on Twitter, everything gets shortened so I go with
    Ms and email
    no periods or hyphens.

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  33. In Russia they put an "a" at the end of a girl's last name, but she keeps that name forever. If I remember correctly. Just sayin'. If done that way, it would be easier to track your ancestors. Probably not what you were looking to know.

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  34. I always thought is was just a way of stripping away the possessive connotation to Mrs. without divulging one's marital status. So in that case, a period is logical as it is a derivative of Mrs. or an abbreviation of Miss. But what do I know?

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  35. I had no idea Mrs. means Mistress. Hmm, I guess I won't get mad the next time someone calls me that. ;) I always use the period after Ms, just because it looks prettier.

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  36. Back in my journalism days it was the rule to strip out any unnecessary punctuation. 'Unnecessary' meaning anything that wasn't essential to the reader's understanding. Hence Mr and Mrs never had full stops (even though grammatically they should have had) because they couldn't be mistaken for anything else.

    Ms was only just becoming accepted back then, but it wouldn't have had a full stop anyway.

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