Sir and ma'am

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by lucybelle, May 6, 2014.

  1. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    May 6, 2014

    For those in the USA- do you use "sir" and "ma'am" when talking to people? I was thinking about it the other day, I always use those terms but I think it's because I was born and raised in the south. I'm trying to figure out if I need to teach my esposo to say "sir" and "ma'am" when talking to people.

    I wouldn't use it with someone familiar, more for like if I call a business on the phone or am doing some sort of transaction. Or if I meet a friend's parents or parents of students I would call them sir or ma'am.

    :thumb:
     
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  3. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I'm from the South, and it is absolutely expected that you use "sir" and "ma'am" when talking to strangers (even those younger than you), and when speaking to elders (strangers and familiar). Basically, the only people we don't say "sir" or "ma'am" to are friends and relatives close to our age or younger. LOL. I like it, and I expect it from my students.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My hoosband is from the South and he uses these terms all the time. I am from the Midwest and I do not. I think that where you live might influence whether your husband should use the terms.
     
  5. underthesun

    underthesun Rookie

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    As someone who lived in the Southeast for quite a few years, I use "sir" and "ma'am" almost all of the time. The only time I don't is when there is a different term that someone prefers (for instance, I've had mentors who prefer "Professor" instead of "ma'am"). Even if I'm speaking with someone just a few years older than me, if I'm answering a yes or no question, I always include a "sir" or a "ma'am" in there.

    I've also lived in the Northeast and the West, too, and I never dropped this habit. I've noticed that it most definitely is not as common outside of the Southeast region, but I've never gotten funny looks for it, either. I think it's always appreciated, if not expected, so I say it's always better to use it.

    Phone calls are tricky, though. I use "sir" and "ma'am" when answering with a "yes" or "no," but if I am not answering a question, I use whatever name they gave me. For instance, if I'm calling into an office to request information or something, and the woman answers the phone with "You've reached _______, this is Karen speaking," then I am going to make a point of saying "Thank you, Karen!" and "Have a nice day, Karen!" instead of "Thank you, Ma'am." They say that the most beautiful word in a language to any given person is their name, after all.
     
  6. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I don't, and I hate being called anything but my first name! Ma'am makes me feel so old. My kids call me Ms. Last name but some have taken to calling me Ms. Last namey or just last namey. I prefer it.
     
  7. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I'm from the Northeast, but I use both terms ALL the time. Although, I mostly use them to address non-family members (except for my elders) and people I don't know well or that I am not close to such as strangers, my co-workers, my students, etc. I also use it for people younger than me (I'm 28).
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    The only way I would use either of those terms is if I was trying to get someone's attention and didn't know their name. Such as, "Sir, you left your credit card on the counter" or something like that. One of my friends out here is from Georgia and she uses sir and ma'am all the time, and doesn't understand why everyone's response is,"Don't call me ma'am, I'm not that old!" She continues to use the terms, because to her it's impolite not to.
     
  9. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    After reading this post and doing a little reflection, I realized that I usually call most people sir/ma'am.

    About an hour ago, a teacher was standing at my door wanting to chat and I said, "Come in, ma'am!"

    Growing up, my parents were BIG on teaching us to be respectful. The good manners I picked up as a kid have stayed with me throughout adulthood.
     
  10. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I remember the first time someone called me ma'am I was maybe 18 years old working at a shoe store and I was like WHAT? ME? I'm not that old! haha Now I'm used to it as a 27 year old.

    I call everyone sir or ma'am. I realized it the other day when I made a phone call and was all "yes ma'am", "thank you ma'am", "one more question, ma'am"...
     
  11. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I'm not from the south and was born in the mid-70s. Sir & ma'am have never crossed my lips.
     
  12. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I don't, but my son who went to school in the south does.
     
  13. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I used it more when I lived in the south, but I never enforced it with my students. You could tell which parents were strict about it.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I lived in the south for a bit...I loved the Miss, Mister, sir, ma'am culture....I find myself slipping into it sometimes...that plus my husband is a retired Naval officer...have heard and experienced A LOT of sir and Ma'am...
    We actually call our cat sir sometimes when he's causing trouble...:)
     
  15. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I was raised in the south and absolutely say sir and ma'am.
     
  16. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    :) That made me smile.

    It's definitely regional. The only time I hear those terms used around here is an employee at a restaurant/store etc talking to a customer. Or an "excuse me, Sir" type of situation like waterfall mentioned. Otherwise, no.
     
  17. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I don't see how it could hurt, but then I'm from the south as well.
     
  18. PinkCupcake

    PinkCupcake Cohort

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    Born, raised, and live in the south I couldn't imagine not saying sir and ma'am. I was taught this while growing up. To me it's a sign of respect and manners.
     
  19. Harper

    Harper Companion

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    May 6, 2014

    Now that I am living outside of the South, I DO get funny looks, often comments, and some outright "please don't call me that." Often the looks and comments are positive, or at least inquisitive. But, some people really don't like it for a variety of reasons. One person I know says that it feels patronizing. In my super diverse area, one must also tread carefully on gender identities. I try to remember those who are truly bothered by it, and make an effort to substitute their name, but old habits die hard. (And I flinch, waiting for my dad to smack me on the back of the head for forgetting to say it! :lol:). I think those individuals realize I am trying though and appreciate my effort.

    All that said, I love it. Will never change :).

    To the original question - if you are moving back to the South, you need to teach your esposo to say it! If not, then you can safely skip it.
     
  20. underthesun

    underthesun Rookie

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    Do you really? Wow! I'm so surprised by that; I honestly have never gotten so much as a weird look from it, and I've lived out West for a few years now. Scratch that, I DID get weird looks when I was abroad, now that I think of it, but I'm not counting those. xD

    I wonder if maybe we use it differently? I really only use it for the "Yes, Ma'am," / "No, Sir," kind of comments. I know I don't throw it into every dialogue I have with someone, so I wonder if that has anything to do with it? :confused: I feel like for the number of times I've said it, statistically, someone should have been all "No, my MOM is Ma'am," by now.
     
  21. teach1

    teach1 Companion

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    I'm from the northeast originally and I've never used them. Like Waterfall said, sometimes I might hear someone say "Excuse me, Sir... where is the jewelry section??" to get a clerk's attention, but rarely.

    I also think there are many other ways to be perfectly polite without using sir and ma'am and I don't think not using them is a sign of bad manners.
     

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