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For example, a man's name is Jeff Smith. My question is:

When should I call him "Jeff"?

When should I call him "Smith"?

When should I call him "Jeff Smith"?

in western.

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I don't think this is an English question. This is a Miss Manners question, and not particularly answerable without a lot more context. –  Marthaª May 18 '11 at 13:57
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closed as off topic by Marthaª, RegDwigнt May 18 '11 at 14:00

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In general US usage, you would use "Jeff" if you are friends, contemporaries, or Jeff has asked you to use his first name. First names are often used in casual settings.

You would use "Mr. Smith" (or "Dr. Smith" or other appropriate title) if you are colleagues, younger than Mr. Smith, or in a formal or business setting.

You would use "Smith" in a very casual setting, particularly when playing sports.

You would use "Jeff Smith" when making an introduction, or if you needed to distinguish him from other Jeffs or Smiths, or sometimes when greeting him.

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What happen if I call him "Smith" when Jeff Smith is my normal colleague? Is it polite? –  AJ09 May 18 '11 at 13:47
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There may be cultural differences regarding calling someone by their surname without a title (i.e. just "Smith"). In the UK, it tends to be limited to specific environments, e.g. schools and the military. –  Steve Melnikoff May 18 '11 at 13:56
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@Steve Agreed. AJ09, there are very significant cultural differences in what constitutes polite address. I'd say "Smith" is not polite, but that's because it's either very familiar, or implies that you are in a position of authority. That might be different in another region though. –  KitFox May 18 '11 at 14:05
    
Thank you Kit ! –  AJ09 May 18 '11 at 14:42
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Usually you refer to someone by their last name when it is more formal so, if they were your boss, or some other form of authority or perhaps, someone you just met.

You use someone's first name more casually, if you know them personally better.

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