Tag Archives: titles

Another Email Suggestion


Recently, I gave you some tips about writing emails and asked for your suggestions as well. Here is a valid one from Mark W. Consider this when you are addressing others:

Since email is so quick and easy vs. a well-written letter on Crane stationary w/ a Mont Blanc fountain pen, people tend to be very casual and, more often then not, never address the person they are writing to using Mr., Mrs. Ms., Dr. and so forth. I often see Dear John, Hey Jane, Hi You, Hey Becky. Fortunately, it is less common when you do not know the person you may be writing to, for instance on a job application.

In other words, I think when it is appropriate, email correspondence can be enhanced with some formality. Ultimately, demonstrating respect still has merit in a world of instant messaging. Social media doesn’t need to be absent of essential decorum. 

It’s also a good idea to sign your name after your message and include your contact information.

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Esq. and Other Titles

You’ve probably seen the abbreviation “Esq.” fairly often. In fact, it applies only to lawyers, male or female.

Originally, an esquire was a young man (a squire) who was a manservant to someone of higher rank, doing menial chores for that person. Gradually, “esquire” was used for any young man, and at some point it became associated entirely with attorneys. When you see “Esq.” after someone’s name, it’s an attempt to confer status on that person. It’s the equivalent of adding “M.D.” for medical doctors and “Ph.D.” for academics. I’m not sure any of those add-ons are necessary, but that’s just my opinion.

I’ve often wondered about the honorifics given to certain professions. We call someone “Dr. Smith,” but you never hear anyone referred to as “Dogcatcher Jones” or “Pilot Ramirez.” Oh, wait. Pilots are called “Captain.” As my comedic idol George Carlin said, “Who made this man a captain? Did I sleep through a military swearing-in?”

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Eliminate Sexist Writing: Cut Out Irrelevant Information

When you use “Mr.” you are referring to a man, but the word does not reveal his marital status.  The title “Ms.” (originally without a period because it was not an abbreviation of another word) was coined in the 1960s to be the female equivalent of “Mr.” Until then, women were referred to as “Mrs.” if they were married, widowed or divorced, or “Miss” if they were unmarried females of any age.  Why should women have to let you know their marital status?  It’s irrelevant.

If, however, a woman lets you know she prefers to be called “Miss” or “Mrs.,” do her that courtesy.

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