_____ _____ Forms of address

Global Sourcebook for International Data Management

                                         by Graham Rhind



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Forms of address

Global Sourcebook | Index | Properties

Forms of address / Personal names imageimage

Tips for practical management of international form of address data External

This section contains information which is of importance when using forms of address or for changing upper-case names into the correct mixed-case format. In some cases it also gives naming conventions which can alter in different countries, provinces or language areas for married women and children.

image This information is added to or modified incidentally as we come across new information or are notified of changes to the legal framework for names and naming.

Here, and throughout this book, the phrase “form of address” refers to the string which is used before a name, equivalent to the English “Mr”, “Mrs”, “Miss”, “Ms” etc. It does not refer to the form of address used before names in, for example, letter headings (“Dear”).

The use of forms of address – indeed, whether they should be used at all – has developed rapidly over the past decades. New forms, such as Mx, have been developed so that the form of address no longer reveals a sex/gender or marital status. These forms also allow the use of a form of address by non-binary people. As the legislative and social framework for these forms of addresses are very varied and changing rapidly, they are usually omitted here. The forms of address information provided in this book is not a replacement for asking people how they prefer to be addressed and using that form. I also strongly discourage the use to form of address to derive a sex or gender.

The forms of address which are described here are those which are suitable for printing on an address label. Unlike English, some languages use a different form of address in letter headings. This is a translation issue and therefore outside the scope of this book (though it may be referred to below for some languages). For this reason also you should address the recipient in the letter in the language of the letter. For example, Dhr. van den Broek in The Netherlands should be addressed as Mr. van den Broek in an English letter because ‘Dear Dhr. Van den Broek’ would be incorrect.

Please note that these forms of address and honorifics refer to us “ordinary” people and not to members of the aristocracy or to specific sections of society such as the church or the military. In these cases, specific research is required to use the correct form of address, and it is not my intention to write a book within a book on this topic. Ensure that you store the correct title in your database and use it correctly.

In some countries, forms of address differ from those given below – check the chapter for the country you are mailing to check for local differences.

Language or country / religion Male Female (married) Female (unmarried) Female (non-specific) Doctor Professor Notes
Afrikaans Mnr Mev Mej Mev.      
Akun (Ghana) Owura     Awura      
Albanian Zoti (Z.) Zonja (Znj.) Zonjusha (Znj.)       All three forms of address are abbreviated to Z..
Amharic Ato Weizero Weizerit       The form of address is used with the given name.
Arabic Sayid Sayeda Anissa       Precise translations of these Arabic forms may differ per Arabic country. The form of address is followed by the full name, including given and “family” name, if present, thus: Sayid Ali Abdullah Mughram al-Ghamdi. For the professions such as engineers, lawyers and doctors, and for military titles, this title is used instead of the honorific, e.g. Engineer Ali Abdullah Mughram al-Ghamdi.
Armenian Paron Teekeen Oriort        
Azeri Janab / Bei Khanym Khanym       Janabis used before the family name in this way: Janab Mamedli. Bei is used after the given name in this way: Ismail Bei. Khanym is used in both ways.
Bahasa Indonesian Bapak (Pak, Bpk.)     Ibu (Bu) Drs / Dra Prof. Professional titles exist in Indinesian and are used (multiply) in front of a name. Drs (male) / Dra (female) is used for a graduate in any field except law or engineering. Ir. (Insinjur) is used for graduates of law. Lawyers have the letters SH added after their name. Prof. Drs Ir Zainal is, for example, a professor of engineering. Forms of address are usually followed by the given name only. In correspondence, professional titles are preceded by forms of address like this: Bapak Drs Suharto.
Bangladesh: Hindu Sri / Babu Srimati Kumari       Sri, Srimatiand Kumari precede the name, Babu follows it. English forms of address are also used, and people with a professional degree often use this at the end of their names.
Bangladesh: Muslim Janab / Shaheb Begum         Janeband Begum precede the name, Shaheb follows it. There is no separate form of address for unmarried women. English forms of address are also used, and people with a professional degree often use this at the end of their names.
Belorussian Spadar (Spad.) Spadarynya (Sp-Ma.) Spadarynya (Sp-Ma.) Spadarynya (Sp-Ma.)     The form of address is followed by the family name.
Brunei Darussalam Awang / Awangku / Pengiran / Dato / Pehin Dayang / Pengiran / Datin Dayang / Pengiran / Datin Dayang / Pengiran / Datin     The use of forms of address in Brunei Darussalam is complex and is explained fully in the Brunei Darussalam chapter.
Bulgarian Gospodin Gospozha Gospozhitza   Доктор/д-р./Doktor Професор/роф./Profesor  
Burmese Mg / Ko / U / Bo Ma / Daw Ma / Daw Ma / Daw Ma / Daw     The use of forms of address in Myanmar is complex and is explained fully in the Myanmar chapter.
Cantonese Sin san Nui si Nui si Nui si Yi sun Gao sou These forms of address are written following the person’s family name, which is written first. Thus the family name of Wang Ping is Wang, and he would be addressed as Wang Sin san.
Catalan senyor senyora senyora senyora      
Chinese (Han / Mandarin) Xiansheng Taitai / Furen / Nüshi Xiaojie Xiaoniang Daifu / Yisheng Jiaoshou These forms of address are written following the person’s family name, which is written first. Thus the family name of Wang Ping is Wang, and he would be addressed as Wang Xiansheng. Other common titles may be derived from occupation, such as Changzhang (“factory director”), Jingli (“company manager”), Zong Jingli (“general manager”), Laoban (“boss”, “proprietor”), Laoshi (“teacher”, “skilled person”).
Czech Pan Paní Slečna(Sl.)        
Danish herr (hr) fru frøken (frk)   Doktor Professor The use of forms of address is regarded as very formal and old-fashioned. If the marital status of a woman is unknown, or a non-specific form of address is preferred, use the abbreviation fr. for all women.
Dari (Afghanistan) Agha Khanum Mohtarama        
Dhivehi (Maldives) Alfarlil     Arfarlilla      
Dutch Mijnheer / Deheer (Mr. / Dhr.) / Heer Mevrouw (Mevr. / Mw) Juffrouw (Juff.) Mevrouw (Mevr. / Mw) Doktor (Dr.)   Juffrouw is still used to a limited extent in Belgium. However, for the Netherlands and many Belgian women Juffrouw should not be used - it is not well received. Use instead Mevrouw. A fuller list of forms of address used for Dutch-speakers is given in the chapter on The Netherlands. You start a formal letter “Geachte mevrouw/heer”.
Dzongkha (Bhutan)             Forms of address are not used in Bhutan.
English Mr (Mister) Mrs (Missus or Missis) Miss Ms Dr Prof. Ms is best used when the marital status of the (female) recipient is unknown. Equally, there is a large and increasing number of married and unmarried women who prefer to be addressed as Ms in all cases. This preference should be noted in your database.
Faeroese harra frû frøken (frk.)        
Farsi (Iran) Agha Khanum / Banu Dooshezeh / Khanum Khanom     Also used are religious titles, such as Ayatollah, Sheikh, Shaikh, Haj, Hajj, Hadj, Hajji and Hojat-ol-Islam.
Finnish Herra (Hra) Rouva (Rva) Neiti (Nti)   Tohtori (Tri)   It is very old-fashioned to used titles, especially in the business world. Use only the name of the person, or the job title.
French Monsieur (M.) Madame (Mme) Mademoiselle (Mlle, Melle)   Docteur (Dr)   You can start a letter "Messieurs" for both males and females. Mademoiselle is no longer used on official forms in France. It is only used in Québec, Canada, for the very young and if a person insists upon it.
Georgian Batoni     Kalbatoni     Forms of address do not distinguish a woman’s marital status. The form of address is written followed by the given name – the use of the family name is regarded as too formal in most contexts.
German Herr / Herrn Frau Fräulein (Frl.) Frau Dr. Prof It is best not to use the form of address Fräulein for unmarried women except when specifically asked to do so. Use instead Frau. Fräulein may be used for young girls, but Frau is used for teenagers. Fräulein is not used in official contexts in Germany.
Greek Kyrios (k.) Kyria (k., ka) Despinida       Note that the abbreviations (k., ka) are in lower case.
Haitian Creole French (Haiti) Misier     Madan      
Hebrew Hanichbad Hanichbada Hanichbada Hanichbada     These are transliterations and may be found written differently in latin script. They are written after the person’s name in this way: Smith Hanichbad
Hungarian úr asszony kisasszony   doktor (dr) Prof. The form of address is written after the name, which is written with the family name first, in this way: Nagy Misi úr. For married women, the suffix is also used concatenated onto the husband’s given name in this way: Nagy Misiné. Professional titles are written before the name: dr Nagy Misi úr. Mérnök means “engineer”.
Hindi Shri / Sri Shrimati / Srimati Kumariu / Kumari / Sushri   Doctor (Dr)   Other forms of address may be encountered defined by local custom, religion (see below under “India”) or caste. Male members of the Brahmin caste may be saluted as Pundit. Members of the Kshatriyas caste (with names ending in Singh) are saluted as Sardar (male) or Sardarnee (female). A male teacher or holy man may be saluted as Guru.
Icelandic Herra (Hr.) Frú (Fr.) Fröken (Fruk./Fr.)       If a woman’s marital status is unclear, or the wish is that no distinction is made, use the abbreviation Fr. as a form of address for all women.
India: Muslims Sahib Sahib Sahib       Sahibis used for both sexes, and is written after the given name. Sahiba may sometimes be found written for females instead of Sahib. Begum may be used when referring to married women, in which case the string used is Begum Sahiba without any part of the name. Begum is used in preference to Sahib(a) in Punjab.
India: Sikhs Bhai / Sardar Bibi / Sadarni Bibi / Sadarni       Bhai means “brother” and Bibi means “sister”. They are written in front of the person’s given name. Kaka and Kaki are used respectively for male and female children.
Irish         Doctúir tOllamh Separate forms of address do not exist in Irish. Forms of address become part of the name. A form of the title Uasal may be used in official communications. Letters are often started with the name of the person followed by “a chara”, meaning “friend”. If no name is used, “A chara” is sufficient. Please refer to the chapter on Ireland for more details.
Italian Signor / Signore (Sig.) Signora (Sig.ra) Signorina (Sig.na)   Dottor / Dottore (Dr) (male) / Dottoressa (Dr) (female) Professore (Prof.) Signor is used when followed by the name. Signore simple means ’mister’ and is used without being followed by a name. You can start a letter “Gentile Signora” for females or “Egregio Signor” for males. Note that currently dottore is a title given to all university graduates. There are plans to scrap this and to allow the title to be used only for people with a Ph.D. or a medical degree.
Japanese sama sama sama sama ishi sensei Japanese forms of address are written in lower case after the name. San may be used instead of sama, but this is less polite. The suffix –chan may be used for children.
Kazakh Myrza     Bike      
Korean (North) Tongmu / Tongji / nim   Tongmu / Tongji / nim Baksa nim     Forms of address are added after personal names, which are written in the order family name + given names. Thus: Kim Song Gap Tongmu. Tongmu means “comrade”. When addressing a person with higher status, the form of address is Tongji. Nim is used as a respect word, for use with teachers and doctors, for example. Women retain their names upon marriage.
Korean (South) Formal: ssi, nim/nimkke, Informal: eke Formal: yosanimkke, Informal: eke Formal: nimkke, Informal: eke Formal: ssi, nim, Informal: eke Baksa nim   Forms of address are added after, and concatenated to, personal names, which are written in the order family name + generational name + given names. Thus: Kim Chul-soo nim. The correct use of these forms of address, which indicate relative age and position, are complex and care needs to be taken. Please refer for more information to the chapter on South Korea.
Kurdish Berez / Kak (informal)     Siti / Khanum (informal)      
Kyrgyz Myrza Aim Kyzym Aim     Aimis used in preference to Kyzym, which is only used for addressing unmarried women younger than yourself.
Lao Thao Nang Nangsao        
Latvian kungs kundze jaunkundze kundze doctors / doktorum   Use jaunkundze only for female children. Use kundze for all other females. Form of address use in Latvian is complicated – please refer for details to the chapter on Latvia.
Lithuanian Ponas Ponia Panelé       The form of address may stand alone or be followed by the family name.
Macedonian Gospodin (G-Din.) Gospogja (G-Gja.) Gospogjica   Dr. Prof. Macedonian also has the academic titles Dipl. Ing. (Ingineer), Prim. (Primerius) and Akad. (Akademic).
Malay Encik/Tuan Puan Cik       Please refer to the chapter on Malaysia for further details on Malay forms of address.
Norwegian Hr. Fr. Frk.   Dr. (medical only   The form of address is rarely used if the first name is used. They are regarded as very formal and old-fashioned, and are better not used at all. Another preference is to use the job title of the person.
Pashtu (Afghanistan) Shagheli Mermen Peghla        
Polish Pan Pani Panna   Dr (Doktor) Prof. (Profesor) The form of “Pan” etc. and the person’s name may change according to context. It may be Pan, Pana, Panu, Panie etc. A letter may be commenced “Szanowny Panie (name)” for males or “Szanowna Panie (name)” for females. Pani is often used for both married and unmarried women. Often no names are used at all in salutations within letters. A letter may commence “Szanowny Panie!” for males, “Szanowna Pani!” for females or “Szanowni Panstwo!” (for two or more people). The forms commencing Drogi/Droga/Drodzy/Drogie are used for informal letters. Consider also that all name forms in Polish can be declined, so if a name is used its ending may have to be changed! The academic titles mgr and inz. (inzynier) may also be used.
Portuguese Senhor (Sr.) Dona (D), Senhora (Sra.) Menina / Sehorita   Doutor (Dr) / Doutora (Dra) Professor Senhora is mainly used in rural areas. Doutor is the male form, Doutora the female form, applied to everybody with a university degree. The use of Menina or Senhorita depends on the country – check each country chapter for details. Professor should be written in full as the abbreviation Prof. refers to school teachers. Engineers are referred to as Engenheiro; architects as Arquitecto; and those with a degree in law as Licenciado or Becharel.
Romanian Domnule / Domnul Doamnă(D-na) Domnişoară(D-ra)       Domnuleis used within a letter heading, Domnul in an address block on an envelope. “Dear Sir” is Stimate domn.
Russian Gospodin Gospozha Gospozha Gospozha     Orthodox church forms of address include Arkhimandrit (Archimandrite), Episkop (Bishop), Mitropolit (Matroploitan) and Patriarkh (Patriarch).
Serbo-Croatian Gospodin (Gdin) Gospodja (Gdja) Gospodjica (Gdjica)   Doktore Profesor (Prof.) Within a letter, the forms of address differ. “Dear Sir” is Cijenjeni gospodine!; “Dear Mr (family name)” is Cijenjeni gospodine (family name)(!); “Dear Madam” is Cijenjena gospodjo!; Dear Mrs (family name)” is Cilenjena gospodjo (family name)(!); Dear Miss (family name)” is Cilenjena gospodjice (family name)(!). Informally, a letter may commence Dragi (given name)(!) (male) or Draga (given name)(1) (female). Magistre is used as a form of address for people with a masters degree, and Ing. is used for people with an engineering degree
Sinhalese(Sri Lanka) Mahatha Mahathmiya Menaviya        
Slovak Pán Pani Slečna (Sl.) Pani Doktor (m) / Doktora (f) (Mudr. or Dr.)   Inzinier (m) Inzinierke (f) (Ing.) is used for people with an engineering degree and Pravnik (m) Pravnička (f) (JUDr. or Dr.) is used for lawyers.
Slovenian Gospod (G.) Gospa (Ga) Gospodicna (Gca) Gospa (Ga) Doktor (Dr)   Inzenir (Dipl. Ing.)is used for people with an engineering degree; Arhitekt (Dipl. Arch.) for architects and Jurist / Iurist (Dipl. Iur.) for lawyers.
Sotho (Lesotho) Moughali Mofumahatsana   Doktor    
Spanish Señor (S., Sr), Don (D.), Señor Don Señora (Sra), Doña (Da ), Señora Doña Señorita (Sta / Srta)   Doctor (Dr.), Doctora (Dra.) Profesor (m) / Profesora (f) (Prof.) Vuida(vda.) in a name indicates a widow. Hijo (h.) after a man’s name means "son", the equivalent of "Junior" in an Anglo-Saxon name. Don (male) and Doña (female) are used more commonly in Spain than in Latin America, and are used only where the given name is written in full. Señor (male) and Señora (female) are used before either family name(s) only or given names and family name(s). Señor Don (male) and Señor Doña (female) are used before given name and surname(s) only. Señorita is becoming an uncommon form, with Señora being used for both married and unmarried women. An envelope in Spain may be addressed: Sr Don Pedro Solana, Sra Doña Mercedes Solana, Sr D.P. Solana, Sra M. Solana or Don Pedro Solana, Doña Mercedes Solana, whereas in Latin America this is more usually Sr Pedro Solana, Sra Mercedes Solana. Formal (business-to-business) letters may be opened using one of these formulae: Señor, Señora, Señores [male plural], Estimado señor, Estimada señora, Estimados señores. More formally this might be: Distinguido señor, Distinguida señora, Distinguidos señores, Muy señor mío, Muy señores míos, In Latin America particularly this formal form of letter opening is also used: De mi mayor consideración, De nuestra mayor consideración, All of these formulae are written followed by a colon (:).
Swahili Bwana / Bwana Mchumo Bibi / Bibi Mchumo Bi Mchumo Bibi / Bibi Mchumo Daktari   Daktais used for people with a Ph.D.
Swazi (Swaziland) Babe     Make      
Swedish Herr (Hr) Fru Fröken (Frk.) Fr.      
Tagalog (Philippines) Ginoo (G.) Ginang (Gng) Binibini (Bb.)        
Tajik Agha / Muhtaram Khanum Khanum Khanum      
Tahitian Tane Vahine Vahine Vahine     Taneand Vahine are written after the name.
Tamil (Sri Lanka) Shri / Thiru Shrimanthi / Tirumati Selvi       Kumaranis used for a young man (“master”)
Thai Khun Khun Khun Khun     Khunis usually only used before given names or nicknames. As Thai contains no spaces between words it may be transliterated concatenated to the name.
Tunisia Formal: Essayed. Informal: Alach Formal: Essayeda. Informal: Aloucht Formal: Alanissa. Informal: Aloucht Formal: Essayeda. Informal: Aloucht     These forms of address are used within letters. Letters without a name may commence Sayidid Alaziz (Dear Sir), Sayidati Alaziza (Dear Madam) or Ila Assada wa Assayidat Almouhtaramin (Dear Sir/Madam). In formal letters, if a person has a academic title such as engineer, this is used after the form of address and before the name.
Turkish Bey / Sayin Bayan / Sayin Bayan / Sayin Bayan / Sayin Dr Prf. Sayinis more formal that Bey/Bayan.
Turkmen Jenap Khanym Khanym Khanym     The use of address forms in Turkmenistan is rather complex. These forms of address are not used in an envelope block – just use the name in the order family name + patronymic + given name. In a letter heading, use hormatly (meaning “honourable”) before the full name string in the order given name + patronymic + family name.
Ukrainian Pan / Pun Pani / Punyi Pani / Punna Pani      
Uzbek Janob Honim Honim Honim      

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All information copyright Graham Rhind 2024. Any information used should be acknowledged and referenced.