I'm dealing with a German company, hunting for a flat. So far I have filled in a web-form and one of their agents has got back to me. She has addressed me as:

Dear Mr [Lastname]

My understanding of German business customs is that I should remain formal for now.

I believe that if we were corresponding in German, I would simply use:

Sehr geehrte Frau [Lastname]

but we are communicating in English and if there's one thing you can trust the British to do, it's mess around with formality. I've now got the options of Mrs / Miss / Ms, with no way of knowing the lady's marital status.

tldr; is Ms acceptable to use to address a lady in Germany?

If answers could also address the German salutation, it might be useful for future visitors to this question.

  • 1
    This forum thread dict.leo.org/forum/viewGeneraldiscussion.php?idThread=4145 recommends Ms. which would seem the most reasonable approach. I know of the German reputation for preciseness however most people with any kind of global experience recognize and overlook small failures in correspondence social formalities. – Richard Chambers Nov 14 '17 at 14:32
  • German Language Stack Exchange may be helpful also. – Midavalo Nov 14 '17 at 14:36
  • 2
    It's not uncommon to use foreign titles in English, so "Dear Frau X" wouldn't be too bad an option. You might even address her in German as "Sehr geehrte Frau X" even though the rest of the letter is in English, perhaps along with a brief apology for not writing in German if you haven't already done that. – phoog Nov 14 '17 at 19:23

In German, the marital status is no longer of concern for addressing a person (cf. Fräulein, which is the equivalent of Miss). You’ll typically only use Herr and Frau, even if you know that they are/aren’t married.

The English translations would be Mr/Mr. (for Herr) and Ms/Ms. (for Frau).

So in your case, you should write:

Dear Ms [Lastname]

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