Never Separate a Man’s First and Last Names

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Have you ever heard this phrase used before?  “Never separate a man’s first and last names, ” means just that. His first name and last name should always be together.

When you address an envelope to a couple, you write:

Mr. and Mrs. John Doe
123 Main Street
New York, NY 21301

Notice that the man’s first and last name stay together, thus not separated.

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When you use the husband’s and wife’s first names, you use the same rule:

Jane and John Doe
123 Main Street
New York, NY 21301

The woman’s first name appears first because, again, you never separate a man’s first and last names.

A few years ago, I spent several hours developing a list of donors to be printed in a program.  I made sure the woman’s name appeared first, so as to not split the man’s name.  Sadly, some well-meaning print company employee did not know the etiquette on this, and he or she re-ordered all the names.  As if that was not bad enough, he/she also proceeded to change the spelling of names of two women and alter who their spouses were.  Since we are in a town where everyone know everyone, I guess they assumed they knew more than me.  Sadly, their assumptions were wrong, so I had to apologize and explain the situation to the couples.

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If you are sending invitations to doctors, then the rule still applies.

Dr. and Mrs. John Doe
or
The Drs. Jane and John Doe
or
Dr. Jane and Mr. John Doe
or
Dr. Jane Johnson and Dr. John Doe

All you need to remember is that a man’s first and last names should never be separated and you will avoid this mistake.

So go ahead and address those invitations with confidence.  Your knowledge of etiquette will serve you well throughout your life.

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Bonus information:  If a person is a medical doctor, he or she should always be addressed with the prefix Dr. If he or she has a doctorate in another field (PhD, EdD, JD, DBA, etc.) then they should only be addressed as Dr. when in the appropriate setting.  For example, I have a doctorate of education in adult education.  In my normal workday, I should be addressed as Ms. Price (because I do not work in an academic setting).  If I give a guest lecture at the high school or a university, I should be addressed as Dr. Price.

However, even though etiquette dictates the appropriate use of titles and when to use Dr., we should be sensitive to a person’s preference (even if they are wrong according to etiquette).  My sister used to serve on a board where the main employee had a doctorate (PhD).  That person would call our office and identify themselves as Dr. Smith.  Really, that was not appropriate because that was outside the setting (socially and professionally) of academics.  But who am I to correct such poor behavior 😇! You would think that somewhere in all those classes, someone could have taught them some proper behavior!

 

 

2 thoughts on “Never Separate a Man’s First and Last Names

  1. If I have an address stamp and in the circle ⭕️ the surname is listed the Smiths and the to right of circle first names John and Jane …
    Do you list John first to keep with surname or Jane and John ( woman first)
    A decorative address stamp

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