‘Ms' vs 'Mrs.': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on November 27, 2022

Should you call a woman ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs.’? What’s the correct one to use? And what’s the difference between the two? We’ll talk about both terms in more detail below. You’ll also learn how to use them both in a sentence correctly.

The difference between the two is that:

Traditionally, ‘Ms’ or Miss is used when a woman isn’t married.

‘Mrs.’ is used when the woman is married. 

Therefore, both terms are technically correct. It just depends on the context in which you use them.

‘Ms’ vs. ‘Mrs’ – What is the Difference?

So, you learned that the difference between the two terms is that ‘Ms’ is usually used with women who aren’t married, whereas ‘Mrs.’ is used when a woman is married. 

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

The word ‘miss’ is simply the extended way to spell ‘Ms.’ So, you’d use ‘Ms’ and ‘miss’ when someone isn’t married and ‘Mrs.’ when they are, usually accompanied by their married last name (i.e., their husband’s last name).

Definition and Meaning 

Now that we know the difference between the two terms let’s define both.

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word ‘miss’ is: “a failure to hit,” “a failure to attain the desired result," “misfire,” and “disadvantage or regret resulting from loss.”

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 of a line of activity or before some epithet to form a title for a young unmarried female who is representative of the thing indicated,” “a young lady,” “a young unmarried woman or girl,” and “a clothing size for women of average height and builds.”

It’s also an abbreviation for the state of Mississippi.

Some phrases you might’ve heard containing the word include:

  • Miss a beat (deviate from regular smooth performance)
  • Miss out on (lose a good opportunity)
  • Miss the beat (to fail to take advantage of an opportunity)

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘Mrs.’ is: “plural of madam,” “or of madame,” “or of Mrs.” It stands for mesdames.

The definition of ‘missus’ is: “wife.”

Some synonyms of the word include:

  • Helpmate
  • Madam
  • Wife (plural wives)
  • Helpmeet
  • Wifey
  • Lady
  • Old lady
  • Woman (plural women)

Similar Confusing Words

There are quite a few confusing words in the English language, and among them are words similar to ‘Ms’ and ‘Mrs.’ Take a look at a few terms that might be just as confusing.


Etc. (etcetera) is a term that trips a lot of people up in both spelling and usage. It means “and other similar things.” Remember that the ‘t’ always comes before the ‘c’ and not the other way around.


The term 31st is an ordinal number, which some people find hard to keep up with. But they all follow a certain pattern, making it easier to remember.


Some people mistakenly believe that ‘forty’ is spelled with a ‘u’ because that’s the way you spell ‘four.’ But it’s actually spelled without the ‘u.’

How to Use ‘Ms’ and ‘Mrs.’ in a Sentence Correctly

Since we know the difference and the definition of ‘Ms’ and ‘Mrs.,’ we can discuss using them in a sentence correctly.

Take a look at a few examples of how you’d use ‘Ms’ in a sentence correctly:

  • Donnelly gave the whole class one marshmallow.
  • I’m the best student in Ms. Stewart’s class.
  • I hope Ms. Williams doesn’t give me detention for being late to class.
  • Jordan wants to marry Mr. Tibs.

Now let’s see how you’d use ‘Mrs.’ in a sentence correctly:

  • Mrs. Jordan is now Mrs. Tibs. They got married!
  • Mrs. Stephens lost her husband last year. Now, she’s a widow.
  • The one thing Mrs. Johnson wanted for her anniversary was a diamond necklace.
  • Mrs. Healy has been married for 45 years.

Final Thoughts on ‘Ms’ vs. ‘Mrs.’

Now that you know the difference between ‘Ms’ and ‘Mrs.,’ you can use the above examples to help you when it’s time to start writing.

Remember that ‘Ms’ is for unmarried women and ‘Mrs.’ is for married women. It’s that simple. Just think of that extra ‘r’ as her husband. Robert, perhaps? (Or whatever floats your boat)

If you ever find yourself stuck, you can always come back here and look through our library of articles dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases. We’ll make your journey to learning English just a little bit easier.

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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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