Honorifics and Titles

We may not know what we are using but in everyday English, we use many words that help us be more polite. In this article, we will take a look at these titles.

Intermediate
What Are Honorifics and Titles in English?

What Are Honorifics and Titles?

When we are talking in a respectful form with somebody we use some conversational terms and they are used to indicate courtesy toward someone older or of a higher social level. These words are called honorifics (sometimes called referent honorifics).

Honorific Words

Compared to other languages Engish does not have a lot of honorific words but these are the honorific titles on the list.

  • Mr.: this honorific title is used before the names of men.

Mr. Jones is a toy maker.

When I met Mr. Fischer he was trying to fix his car.

  • Mrs.: is a title of respect for a married or widowed woman.

Mrs. Baker is a wonderful lawyer.

Mrs. Bails was a nice woman but she was killed in a mysterious way.

  • Ms.: is used when you are not sure of a woman's marital status.

Ms. Anderson seemed eager to cook dinner.

When Ms. Allen started the show we were all behind the scene.

  • Miss: is used to indicate respect for a female child and an unmarried woman.

Miss Barnes used to be my teacher.

Alison is Miss Barney's granddaughter.

When we are using these honorific titles we have to keep in mind that they are capitalized in the first letter and they are followed by a period except Miss which is capitalized at first but is not followed by a period. Usually, in British English, none of them is followed by a period.

  • Sir: the word 'Sir' is alone or before a name to refer to a man.

'Mr.' is short for 'mister' and is used for men

Excuse me Sir!

I hated Sir Nape.

  • Words such as Madam, Sir, Dr., General, etc. are used with the capital letter even in the middle of a sentence, before a name in order to show respect.

Dr. Regina told us to stay in hospital for two more hours.

General Parker was a brave man.

Sometimes we use some words alone in a sentence to refer to someone in a respectful way. Remember the honorific has to be capitalized at the beginning.

They had an interview with the President.

Call the Captain. I am sure he will figure it out.

Tip

Usually, when we are really close to people who are older than us, we use honorific titles followed by their first name, but when they are not, to be even more polite we use their last name after honorific titles.

Professor Ross is my brother.

Dr. Green is an old man now.

Titles of Affection

When we are addressing pets, our friends, or people who are younger than us, we use some titles that make us look friendly.
These are titles such as:

  • Honey (child, romantic partner, or younger person),
  • Dear, Sweetie, Love, Darling, Babe or Baby (romantic partner),
  • Pal (father or grandfather calls male child),
  • Buddy or Bud (between friends).

Honey give me the keys, please!

Sweetie hurry up; you're gonna be late for school.

Honorific Phrases

There are some phrases that are used as honorific titles for people of a higher social status. For example:

  • Your Honor (refers to a judge)
  • Your Highness (refers to a king, queen, prince, etc.)

Will that be all, Your Highness?

Here are the evidence Your Honor.

Royal Titles

Royal titles are used as honorific titles whether followed by the name or not. Royal titles are words such as: King, Queen, Prince, Duke, etc.

Prince Charming wanted to steal Fiona's heart.

I am sure that the King knows best.

Review

Honorific titles are used to refer to people but in a respectful way. When using honorific titles make sure that they are capitalized at the beginning. Sometimes they are used alone and sometimes they are followed by a name.

Comments

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