Forms Of Address
For ways of saying you, see the grammatical note You.
Forms of address used with surnames are señor (for a man), señora (for a married or older woman), and señorita (for an unmarried woman):
- buenos días, señor Gómez
- pase por favor, señora Lozano
- señorita Abreu, la esperan en recepción
When talking about someone, these forms are preceded by the definite article and the first name may also be included:
hará uso de la palabra el señor Antonio Gómez
permítame presentarle a la señorita Lucía Jiménez
Señorita is also used with the first name when talking to or about a teacher:
- ¿puedo salir un momento, señorita Raquel?
- me lo dijo la señorita Ana
Señor, señora and señorita are also used without a name, for example, to address a stranger:
- buenos días, señorita
- pase, señora
- ¿esto es suyo, señor?
In restaurants, stores, etc. they are heard more frequently than the English Sir, Madam, or Miss:
- ¿la atienden, señora?
- ¿me permite su abrigo, señor?
The customer is sometimes addressed in the third person:
- ¿qué desea la señora?
- ¿qué va a beber el señor?
The forms don (for a man) and doña (for a woman) are used as a sign of respect, particularly to older people with a certain social status. They are commonly heard when addressing doctors, priests, teachers, etc. They are used with first names:
- buenas tardes, Don Carlos
- ¿cómo está, Doña Susana?
When talking about someone the surname may also be included:
- Don Carlos Valenzuela
- Doña Susana Salvador
However, don and doña cannot be used with surnames only.
Addressing people and referring to them by their professions or titles
Titles like doctor, profesor, ingeniero, etc, and their feminine forms, are used with the surname:
- doctora Bonino
- ingeniero Soto
Padre can be used with a priest’s surname or with his first name:
- Padre Martín
- Padre Garese
Nuns are addressed by using hermana, madre or sor with their Christian name:
- hermana Angélica
Some titles, like doctor, profesor, padre, and hermana, are often heard without the surname:
- ¿puedo salir, profesor?
- ¿qué me recomienda, doctor?
Ingeniero, licenciado, and their feminine forms, are also used in this way, but mainly in certain Latin American countries:
- a sus órdenes, licenciado
- como usted diga, ingeniero
To refer to someone by their profession or title requires the use of the definite article:
- el príncipe Felipe
- el doctor Tercedor
- el catedrático Jiménez López
As a mark of respect people can be referred to in the following way:
- el señor doctor
- la señora abogada
- el señor alcalde