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  • Hi. My name's Rebecca. In today's lesson, you will learn what to call people in various

  • situations. Now, this may seem rather basic, but I've actually heard lots of foreigners

  • and English learners make mistakes in this area. So make sure to watch this lesson so

  • you don't make these basic mistakes. Okay?

  • So, how do you know what to call someone? Well, it depends on a lot of different factors.

  • Let's look at what some of them are first. So, is the situation formal or informal? Are

  • you talking to a man or to a woman? Are you speaking to one person or many people? Is

  • it somebody that you know? In other words, do you know their name or is it somebody unknown?

  • And is it a regular kind of a situation or is it a romantic situation?

  • Now, if it's a romantic situation, that's a whole other lesson, but in general, romantically

  • you may call someone: "sweetheart", "sweetie", "love", "honey", and so on, "baby", things

  • like that. Okay? That's romantic. In the rest of the lesson, we'll talk about all of the

  • other options. Okay?

  • So let's start first here. In the first part here at the top, I've marked what you should

  • do if you're talking to someone that you know. In other words, you know the name but it could

  • be a formal situation or an informal situation. Let's start with the formal situation.

  • Now, in some cases, we refer to the... A professional-only a few professionals, not all-we refer to them

  • by their title. What does that mean? For example: you may simply call someone: "Doctor. Doctor,

  • what should I do?" All right? You don't have to necessarily use the name; you can just

  • refer to him as "Doctor", so you're using his or her title. You could also do this for

  • Professor; you don't have to use the last name even though you may know the last name.

  • Let's say the name is Professor Black, but you don't have to say: "Professor Black",

  • you could just say: "Professor". All right? Or if you're talking to a police officer...

  • All right? And even if you see his badge, or his name, or something like that - you

  • could still just refer to the person, whether it's a man or a woman as: "Officer", and that

  • would do. And it's nice to do that, it's polite to do that, it might actually be rather important

  • for you to do that if you're talking to a police officer. Okay? So in some formal situations,

  • you can refer to the person by their title. These are probably the most common. All right?

  • Other than this, we don't usually refer to people as... By their title. Okay?

  • Now, if you know the name but it's a formal situation, so they're not good friends of

  • yours or something like that, then you use: "Mr." if it's a man with the last name. "Mr.

  • Jones". If it's a woman and you know that she's married, you can say: "Mrs. Smith".

  • If it's a woman and she's not married or you're not sure if she's married or not, then you

  • say: "Ms. Brown". Now, "Ms" is spelt: "M-s", but it's pronounced like: "Miz", "Ms.", "Ms.

  • Brown". Okay? So if you're going up to someone and you say: "Excuse me, Ms. Brown." Okay?

  • Or: "Excuse me, Mrs. Smith", and so on. Formal situations.

  • If it's an informal situation with a known person, then of course, you can use their

  • first name if in the past you have been told that it's okay to use their first name. So

  • if you called Mr. Jones, if you said to Mr. Jones: "Excuse me, Mr. Jones", and he says:

  • "Oh, that's okay. You can call me 'John'." Then, you can refer to him as John after that.

  • The same with women's names; Mary or Susan. These are for people who are known to you.

  • Okay?

  • Now, here at the bottom, this is what you do when you're talking to people who you don't

  • know. In other words, to strangers. Right? So if you're talking to a man in a formal

  • situation, you would usually say: "Sir". Okay? "Good morning, sir.", "Excuse me, sir." All

  • right? "May I help you, sir?" All right? Especially in customer service kind of positions or if

  • you work in a hotel - these are very important titles to know.

  • If it's an informal situation... All right? So this is not going to be in a customer service

  • or... Situation. This might be on the street, or at a party, or something; very informal.

  • You could say: "Hey, mister." Or: "Hey, man.", "Hey, dude.", "Hey, bro." All right? Again,

  • informal to very informal.

  • If you're talking to a woman, we don't really have an informal column for a woman that we

  • don't know, so it's usually a little bit more on the formal side. If it's informal, you

  • know the person. All right? So if it's a woman and you don't know her name, you could say:

  • "Madam. May I help you, madam?" Or: "Excuse me, ma'am." So "ma'am" is kind of like an...

  • Sort of like an abbreviation of "madam". So, "madam" or "ma'am".

  • If you're talking to a group of people and they're... Let's say first the group is all

  • men, and if it's a formal situation, you would say: "Gentlemen". Okay? So you're trying to

  • get some... The attention of some men, you could say: "Gentlemen. Excuse me, gentlemen."

  • If it's a group of women, you could say: "Ladies. Good morning, ladies." Okay? If you're talking

  • and you don't know their name. Okay? Once you get to know them, it's a little bit different.

  • If you're addressing a crowd and there's going to be men and women there, usually we will

  • say: "Ladies and gentlemen. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen." And we do put "ladies"

  • first. Okay? We don't say: "Good evening, gentlemen and ladies." That's just not a common

  • expression at all. So make sure you say: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to

  • the show." Something like that. All right? Very common expressions and very important

  • expressions, very polite expressions to know.

  • In... Again, in an informal situation or a very informal situation, you could refer to

  • a group of people, men and women as: "Folks. Hey, folks. Let's... Let's be quiet now so

  • she can start." Okay? Very informal. And gets more informal. "Hey, guys. How are you doing?",

  • "Hey, guys. What are you doing? What are you doing here?" Okay? And if you're talking to

  • your children, this is in a family situation: "Hey, kids. Let's go now." Okay? So that's

  • how you're referring to a group of children. All right? You may or may not know them in

  • that case.

  • So quite a few things to keep in mind. It seems basic. Make sure you know these basic

  • things of how to refer to people and it will be a lot easier for you. Okay? If you'd like

  • to do some practice on this, please go to our website: You can also

  • subscribe to my YouTube channel for more lessons in basic or advanced English. Thanks very

  • much for watching. Bye for now.

Hi. My name's Rebecca. In today's lesson, you will learn what to call people in various

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A2 US informal situation formal refer talking madam

Speak English: What to call people

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    Laura Hung posted on 2014/08/10
Video vocabulary