M’am or Ma’am? Which is Correct?

It can be difficult to determine what the proper spelling of a word is, especially if you don’t usually spell it out. For example, a lot of people misspell the word ma’am because it’s not a word that is typically spelled out.

Ma’am often gets misspelled as m’am. However, m’am is not correct and isn’t even a real word. It is just a common misspelling that gets looked over. It’s easy to assume that there is just one A, but since ma’am is short for madam, this isn’t the case.

Ma’am

Ma’am is just a shortened version of the word madam. It is used without someone’s name as a sign of respect. It is also considered a polite way to address a woman. However, some women consider being called ma’am offensive or rude.

While ma’am is technically age-neutral, it isn’t typically seen that way. Younger women believe that ma’am is only used to address older women, so they get offended when they are called such.

When to Use Ma’am

Although ma’am is supposed to be a word of respect, you need to make sure you use it carefully. Many women are not a fan of being called ma’am, especially if they are young. You should only call a woman ma’am if you know that she is okay with it.

In most cases, if you call a woman older than you ma’am and they don’t like it, they will politely correct you and let you know they want to be called something different. This might not always be the case, but there is a safer option.

What to Use Instead of Ma’am

The safest word to use instead of ma’am is Ms. This is pronounced like “mizz” and it doesn’t refer to age or marital status in any way. Ms. is considered to be the female equivalent to Mr. because it includes all women and doesn’t discriminate against age. Read more about Ms, Mrs, and Miss here.

What about Mam?

Mam is another word for Mum or Mom. It is an informal way to call your mother. Mom is usually used in American English and Mam or Mum can be heard in the U.K and Ireland.

Summary

If you see ma’am written as m’am, it is just a common misspelling. M’am is not a real word, so you shouldn’t use it in written communication.

Ma’am is short for madam, which is a sign of respect. However, it’s not always seen that way. Some women get extremely offended when they are called ma’am, so it is best to avoid it unless you know they are okay with it.

A great alternative for ma’am is Ms. because it is neutral to age and marital status, meaning fewer women will be offended by it.