A lady is a woman.

lady She’s a lady.

  • A man gave this lady some tulips.
  • She’s a very beautiful lady.
  • I met two ladies today at lunch. (Notice the plural form of this word drops the "y" and adds "ies.")

There are some small things to consider when you use this word. It’s nice to say a woman is a lady, but it’s rude to use the word when referring to a woman directly:

  • Hey lady, do you need some help? (Not so good.)
  • Excuse me, ma’am. May I help you? (Good!)
  • What wrong with you, lady? (Bad.)
  • Is there a problem, ma’am? (Better.)
  • Thanks lady. (No.)
  • Thank-you. (Good. And be careful with the word "ma’am." Some women feel the use of this word makes them feel old.)

Using the plural form when addressing a group of women is considered polite.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please? (Good.)
  • I’m sorry, ladies. Your order is not ready yet. (Good.)

Sometimes adults address young girls as ladies. This is okay.

  • Please get to class before the bell rings, ladies. (A teacher talking to a group of girls. This is okay.)
  • You’re a very pretty little lady. (An adult talking to a child.)
  • You are in big trouble, young lady. (This is a parent talking to a child.)

The possessive noun form of this word is used when talking about a bathroom for women:

  • Maria went to the ladies’ restroom.
  • Where’s the ladies’ room?
  • The ladies bathroom on this floor is out of service. (Sometimes the apostrophe is left off of the word. It doesn’t really make much of a difference.)

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January 13, 2015