Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It seems to be not quite logical to use the traditional address "ladies and gentlemen" when there are only a single lady and a single gentleman in the room, not counting for the person who is speaking.

What an address (in a similarly traditional style) would it be better to use in such case? Does it depend on the speaker's gender or any other circumstances?

share|improve this question
2  
It seems quite strange (without knowing the full context) to address two people in such a manner at all. I do not think I could fit such a ‘generic introductory address’ (for lack of a better term) into a natural scenario if I were addressing just two people—I would probably just leave it out entirely. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 11 '13 at 15:59

6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Ladies and Gentlemen" is a common expression used to address an audience or crowd. While a crowd may consist of only gentlemen or only ladies, or possibly even just one gentleman or lady, it's entirely acceptable to address them as such anyway, as they will 'get' what you mean.

If you want to be 'correct', you could welcome them as "Sir and Madame" if it is one man and one woman. For a room of all one gender "Gentlemen" if it is all gentlemen and "Ladies" if it is all ladies, though you should only do this if you are certain that this is the case. Even then, it is unlikely that "Ladies and Gentlemen" will be objected to.

share|improve this answer
    
Or perhaps, these days, 'Ladies, Gentlemen and Others.' –  Barrie England Oct 11 '13 at 14:26
    
A fair point, Barrie. –  Zibbobz Oct 11 '13 at 14:44
1  
@BarrieEngland - we might call them others but the others certainly think themselves as one or the other. –  RyeɃreḁd Oct 11 '13 at 19:13
1  
@BarrieEngland, well this may be the case if their are at least three people =) –  Avenger911 Oct 12 '13 at 18:18

Consider Colleagues (if they are affiliated professionally or through some organization) or Friends (if they are at least acquaintances).

share|improve this answer
    
it's a pretty good idea, but unfortunately the case I had in mind doesn't quite fit neither colleagues, nor friends option. –  Avenger911 Oct 12 '13 at 18:17
    
In some communities or cultures, the terms citizens or comrades might be used. The archaic form of gentlefolk also might do. –  bib Oct 12 '13 at 18:19
    
And, if there is only one gentleman and only one lady, what are the rest of the audience, churls? –  bib Oct 12 '13 at 18:20
    
I meant the audience consists of just two people. Thanks for making me learn a new word, by the way. –  Avenger911 Oct 12 '13 at 18:23

Well if you only have one woman you can say "Lady and Gentlemen". I would do this in a way to show appreciation of the only woman that was present. Unless the meeting was just for men and then you could really emphasize the "Lady" to note that something may be off. And on the flip side you could also say "Ladies and Gentleman".

share|improve this answer

Well if there is only one Lady and a gentleman then

  1. If they are known to you then you can call them by their name itself , or

  2. If unknown, can say excuse me!! or Hello!!,

I think it should do the trick. :)

share|improve this answer

How about saying something like "I welcome the lady and the gentleman seated here....I am going to talk about blah blah" And if she seems like the eternal feminist you could substitute that by 'the gentleman and ah yes...the Lady"

share|improve this answer

If there are only ladies then we may address them as "Worthy ladies".

If both genders are present then "Ladies and gentlemen" or "Worthy ladies and gentlemen".

share|improve this answer
1  
Please explain why. –  curiousdannii Jul 24 at 4:36

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.