Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

June 19, 2009

Dealing with names and titles

This, for most people you meet, will be straightforward. The first, or Christan name plus the last, or surname.

Josephine Marsh.

There may be a middle name expressed in full or by an initial:

Josephine Helen Marsh.    or      Josephine H. Marsh.

She may have a nickname  Jo or Josie ( a short version of her name) or based on some characteristic such as Slim ( for a thin or fat person) or Brains (for someone clever)

and a title           Miss, Mrs or Ms

All are spelt with capital letters.

(The plurals :   Miss = Misses and   Mr = Messrs are very formal. Ms and Mrs have no plurals)

Names beginning with Mac, Mc or O’ are followed by capital letters McDonald or O’Leary for example.

Some people have ‘double barrelled ‘surnames  (two surnames) such as Harvey-Jones or Macmillan-Smythe, these are hyphenated.

Making references to people

If you know the person you would use the first name;

Jo and I saw Slumdog millionaire last night (use the surname as well if there are several Jos)

We use the title and surname for older people, or in formal situations, or if we don’t know someone very well.

I see that Mr Williams at number 12 has a new car.

We wouldn’t usually use the first name and surname unless we wanted to avoid confusion.

We sometimes refer to couples or families using the and the plural of their surname:

The Richardsons are coming to dinner.

Have you seen the Morgans’ new house?

 We can also use the determiner a when we don’t know a person:

There’s a Mr Jolly on the phone.


Titles are usually used in front of the surname or first name and surname.

Inspector Brown

Archbishop Rowan Williams

Rabbi Lionel Blue

Baroness Thatcher

 Aunt and Uncle are still used for family members.

Aunt Mary

Uncle John

Brother, Sister, Father are now usually used as religious titles for monks, nuns and priests. Father can be used with first and surnames but Brother and Sister are usually used with the christian name.

Aristocratic titles

Should you need to address a member of the aristocracy, you will need the following:

Her (His Majesty) reserved for Queens and Kings

Royal Highness – princes and princesses

Your Grace – Dukes/Duchesses

Sir/Dame – Barons/Baronets/Baronesses/Knights/Dames

Lord/Lady – Earls/Viscounts/Marquesses

His/Her Excellency for Ambassadors

So now you are ready for all ocasions where you might need to address someone, introduce someone or generally refer to people.

For more on aristoctratic titles see this site


1 Comment »

  1. […] This is the name given to nouns which name people, institutions, organisations, books, paintings, plays etc. Proper nouns need a capital letter. They usually have no plural but can sometimes take a definite article (see my posting on names and titles) […]

    Pingback by Dealing with Proper Nouns « Rliberni’s Blog — October 14, 2009 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

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