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?

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    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. Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 15:59
  • Nothing whatever wrong with saying "lady and gentleman".
    – WS2
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 23:18
  • @WS2 Then they might walk out too. See the Wiktionary analysis. A wry '[My Lords,] Ladies and Gentlemen' would be more advisable. Commented May 14, 2021 at 18:44
  • @EdwinAshworth I can't think it much matters what you say, as long as it is done with courtesy and a humourous sense of irony.
    – WS2
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 15:18
  • I'm with Janus in that it's unnatural; I feel that the obviously wrong format makes sure they appreciate the comic aspect and form of address, rather than wonder about the appropriateness/correctness of 'Lady and Gentleman'. Wiktionary says that the literal singular is rare even when twinned with the plural. Commented May 15, 2021 at 15:56

7 Answers 7


"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.

From related Wiktionary entry:

ladies and gentlemen pl ‎(plural only)

(idiomatic) Used to address an audience.

  • Use is so idiomatic that even unisex audiences are sometimes addressed this way, though "ladies" or "gentlemen" would be more correct.
  • The forms "lady and gentlemen" and "ladies and gentleman" are rarely used even when strictly correct.
  • Nearly always used with "ladies" before "gentlemen", as opposed to "gentlemen and ladies".
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    Or perhaps, these days, 'Ladies, Gentlemen and Others.' Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 14:26
  • A fair point, Barrie.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 14:44
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    @BarrieEngland - we might call them others but the others certainly think themselves as one or the other. Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 19:13
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    @BarrieEngland, well this may be the case if their are at least three people =) Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 18:18
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    Not really. 'Others' certainly don't always think of themselves as one or the other, and grouping them all under one category, and in such a dismissive tone, sounds borderline insulting, I would say. Sticking to the traditional and expected "Ladies and Gentlemen" is probably better. Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 9:39

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".


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

  • it's a pretty good idea, but unfortunately the case I had in mind doesn't quite fit neither colleagues, nor friends option. Commented Oct 12, 2013 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
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 18:19
  • And, if there is only one gentleman and only one lady, what are the rest of the audience, churls?
    – bib
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 18:20
  • I meant the audience consists of just two people. Thanks for making me learn a new word, by the way. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 18:23

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"


If there were to be only a man and a woman, I should probably say 'Sir and Madam'. A group of both men and women would be 'Ladies and Gentlemen', a group consisting of men and a woman or women and a man would be 'Ladies and Sir' and 'Gentlemen and Madam' respectively. Another way would be to use French 'Madame et Monsieur', 'Mesdames et Monsieur' and 'Messieurs et Madame'.

  • Joe, this is good info, but it adds nothing to the already accepted answer.
    – Davo
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 12:45
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    It adds the fact that options aren't limited to English word, which is useful info.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 14:05

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. :)


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".

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    Please explain why. Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 4:36

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