whole name & sur name

Guest   Sat Sep 16, 2006 10:06 am GMT
I would like to know whether it is a polite way to use the whole name of someone in writing a letter. Or should I use sur name?
I don't know which is sur name of one's whole name. Can you explain me with an example?
Guest   Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:17 pm GMT
It is always a difficult decision as to when you can be on first name terms. Some people, such as high pressure salesman, just as they might put their foot in the door, they will also presume to use a potential client's first name, as a way of encouraging familiarity and confidence.

Other people remain aloof and address people properly, long after it is time to be more informal.

The Polish children that I am friendly with, call me Mr. Robin even though Robin is my first name, and not my surname. I am quite happy for them to call me that because it shows a certain amount of respect, and yet at the same time they are using my first name. It is like a 'pet name'.

Similarly, other people will use something like 'pal' when talking to a stranger, to be friendly. Foreigners will sometimes say "blah blah friend", assuming you are their friend. That is quite acceptable in its way. To a certain extent native speakers forgive foreigners all sorts of errors if they want to.

But to answer your question, in a letter it is probably better to be slightly formal, because you do not know who the letter will be shown to. So you could say Mr. _________. Unfortunately, the position with reference to women is more difficult, because if you say Miss or Mrs. ___________, it reveals their marital status, which is something that they do not always want to disclose. One way round that is to address a women in a letter as Ms. _________. Another way is to use their first name and Surname. The position is more complicated when people have a string of names. With some groups of immigrants, it is not immediately obvious whether their first name comes at the start of the string or visa versa, and where in the string their surname appears.

Traditionally nobility are refered to by their estate. Prince Charles of Windsor.

It is clearly wrong if you address someone Mr. (First Name) particularly in a letter. But because it is wrong does not stop people from doing it. Mr. Jimmy

Foreigners sometimes will say 'Sir' long after it has become necessary. In fact saying 'Sir' at all may be inappropriate. However will sometimes go down well, because it implies a degree of respect that is quite possibly not deserved.

The female version of 'Sir', which is 'Madam' is far more problematic, as it refers to an older woman for a start. Also, a Madam is the proprietor of a Brothel.

I believe the Police favour a term like 'Mam'.

I think that I have rambled a bit, but you can see that this is a potential minefield. However like most things, it is what you communicate that is important. People who communicate with out 'Good Will' are poor communicators.
Uriel   Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:40 pm GMT
The surname is the last name, or family name. So for Sharon Smith, "Smith" is her surname.

You can write "Dear Sharon Smith" or "Ms. Smith" (it's probably not wise these days to guess her marital status, even if you have a personal dislike of the term "Ms.") If you are using the British style, you can omit the period after the abbreviation.
Impurethinker   Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:06 pm GMT
" believe the Police favour a term like 'mam'"
Actually sir as any good Southern US boy will tell you it's spelled Ma'am which is actually just a short form of madam anyways.