'Ms.' vs. 'Mrs.' vs. 'Miss': What is the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 21, 2022

Wondering which to use to address a woman in your life – ‘Ms.,’ ‘Mrs.,’ or ‘Miss’? We can help you make the right choice, plus teach you how to use all three correctly.

The short answer is:

  • ‘Ms.’ refers to a woman who isn’t married.
  • ‘Mrs.’ refers to a married woman.
  • ‘Miss’ is just ‘Ms.’ spelled out, and it’s often reserved for younger women.

What is the Difference Between ‘Mrs.,’ ‘Ms.,’ and ‘Miss’?

As you just learned, the difference between ‘Mrs.,’ ‘Ms.,’ and ‘Miss’ is that the first title refers to a married woman and the other two refer to unmarried or young women.

‘Ms.’ Vs. ‘Mrs.’ vs. ‘Miss’ – The Correct Way to Use Each

To use each correctly, address only married women with ‘Mrs.’ The other two can be used for young or unmarried women.

Definition and Meaning

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘Ms.’ is:

  • Used as a conventional title of courtesy before a woman’s surname
  • Used instead of Miss or Mrs. (as when the marital status of a woman is unknown or irrelevant)

An abbreviated ‘MS’ can also mean:

  • manuscript
  • master of science
  • military science
  • Mississippi
  • motor ship
  • multiple sclerosis

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘Mrs.’ is:

  • Mesdames > are used as a conventional title of courtesy except when usage requires the substitution of a title of rank or an honorific or professional title before a married woman’s surname.
  • Used before the name of a place (such as a country or city) or of a profession or activity (such as a sport) or before some epithet (such as clever) to form a title applied to a married woman viewed or recognized as representative of the thing indicated,” and “wife."

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘Miss’ is:

  • to fail to hit, reach, or contact
  • to fail to perform or attend
  • to leave out: omit
  • to discover or feel the absence of
  • to fail to comprehend, sense, or experience
  • escape, avoid
  • to fail to obtain
  • to fail to hit something
  • to be unsuccessful
  • misfire
  • to fail to get, reach, or do something

It also means:

  • Used as a title prefixed to the name of an unmarried woman or girl
  • Used before the name of a place or a line of activity or before some epithet to form a title for a usually young unmarried female who is representative of the thing indicated
  • Young lady > is used without a name as a conventional term of address to a young woman
  • A young or unmarried woman or girl
  • Misses plural: a clothing size for a woman of average height and build

How to Use All Three in a Sentence

Now that we know what each of these words means, let’s see how to use them correctly in a sentence.

Ms. & Miss

  • Miss Honey was my favorite character in the movie Matilda.
  • Have you seen Miss Grey? She was supposed to be here at 9 am.
  • My daughter’s kindergarten teacher is Miss Wilson.
  • Holloway says it’s not nice to lie.
  • Can we buy a present for Ms. Williams – my Spanish teacher?
  • Miss Hannagan left us for modeling.

Now, if you want to use the word ‘miss,’ you can use it in a sentence in the following ways.

  • I miss my sister so much since she went away to summer camp.
  • Don’t miss the school bus. I don’t have time to drive you to school.


  • Peters was the meanest substitute teacher we ever had.
  • Let’s go find Mrs. Rogers and see if she’s okay after what the students did.
  • No one thought Mrs. Davidson was coming back.
  • Mrs. Donaldson is coming over for Thanksgiving dinner this year.
  • My trainer told me to call her Mrs. Harrison. I guess she wants me to know she’s married.
  • Can you help Mrs. Huber with her groceries, please? She might give you a little bit of money.

Final Thoughts on ‘Ms.’ Vs. ‘Mrs.’ vs. ‘Miss’

To recap, we learned that ‘Ms.’ and ‘Miss’ are both used for younger and unmarried women, while ‘Mrs.’ is generally used for married women.

If you ever get stuck on which is the correct one to use, you can always come back here and refresh your memory.

We’ve also got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases in the English language.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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