señora and señorita

Knowing the difference between señora and señorita and when to use them

When you meet Spanish women for the first time, and you use good courtesy titles, you help make an excellent first impression on yourself. Courtesy titles are placed before the names of people, for example, Miss Eglantine ( in English). 

Sometimes, it can be challenging to know which courtesy title to use and when. Although there is a set rule for senora and senorita, the rule sometimes doesn’t apply to reality! As you continue to read this post, you will find out how these words are used differently, why they are written differently, and how to use them. 

What is the difference between señora and señorita

Senora and senorita are titles given in Spanish to women. Mrs, miss, ma’am, and ma are courtesy titles in English culture.  However they are used, they are certainly used differently. For example

  • Mrs. Andrews is the owner of D and D’s company in Cameroon. Mrs. Andrews is the husband of Mr. Andrew. (Mrs) here is used on a married woman. 
  • Miss Pegler was here today. (Miss) is often used by people toward unmarried women or younger women in society. 
  • Ma’am and Ma are often used towards bosses or female employers, for married or unmarried women who are older. It is also often used to address older women whose names you do not know. Youths towards older women also use ma’am; they do not want to call mom just mother.

As there are differences with English courtesy titles, there are also differences with Spanish courtesy titles. Below is the difference between señora and señorita.

Senora vs. senorita

Señora

Señora is often used for older women. These women can be married or unmarried. As long as they are older, the title señora is what they are supposed to be addressed with. It is considered impolite to refer to an older woman in Spanish culture as señorita. 

For example, one would refer to your mother as señora because she is older, and one would refer to you as señorita because you are young. Señora is also often used in interviews. It would refer to Mrs or Ma’am. 

Señorita

Señorita is often used for younger women. It is considered inappropriate to use señora for older women because one might take it offensive depending on who you are speaking with. So, as long as a lady is a younger woman or an unmarried woman, you can use señorita as a courtesy title towards them. 

It is the way one would refer to your older female boss as señora, and they would refer to you as señorita. That might have been what you addressed her on the first day you met her. If you are still to get an interview or wherever you meet an older Spanish woman, please do well to address her as señora. 

These courtesy titles could sometimes be confusing if you are not Spanish speaking. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying! You can be fluent in Spanish if you get the right help! You can learn Spanish online with the help of a tutor. You can get a Spanish tutor by booking a lesson on italki with the italki website or app.

What is italki?

I know you’re already wondering, “italki,” what is italki?. Well, italki is an online site and mobile app where you can learn Spanish. You can log in with your Google account to access the site and book a lesson, or you can learn Spanish by using the app to learn Spanish. Well, yes, as mentioned above, italki has an app too.

Lessons on italki are negotiable and flexible. There’s no specific time for you to learn a lesson. You can also choose your tutors and have a free trial before committing to them.

When to use senora vs. senorita

Senora and senorita are two different titles with separate application methods. The mode of application changes when addressing a female or woman directly or indirectly. 

For example, when you are directly addressing a woman, you would say; 

  • Sra. Andre, la reunión está programada para mañana. ¿estarías allí?

Mrs. Andre, the meeting is scheduled for tomorrow. Would you be there? 

  • Señorita Robert, me encanta tu nuevo cabello.

Miss Robert, I love your new hair.

  • Sra. Eglantine, es un placer conocerla finalmente en persona.

Mrs. Eglantine, it’s a pleasure to meet you in person, finally 

When you indirectly refer to a woman not talking to them directly, it takes on the (la, el, es) at the beginning. You would say;

  • La Sra. Andre se muestra escéptico sobre la reunión prevista para mañana.

Mrs. Andre is skeptical about the meeting scheduled  for tomorrow

  • El nuevo cabello de la señorita Robert es hermoso.

 Miss Robert’s new hair is beautiful 

  • Finalmente conocí a la señora Eglantine en persona.

I finally met Mrs. Eglantine in person 

This is a sensitive topic when it comes to Spanish people. While some strongly believe that senora and senorita should be used differently for older and younger women, others believe that all women can be called senorita. 

Now, this aspect of the belief that all women can be called senorita is not always generally accepted by women. So you might either find yourself offending or flattering a lady. You may even offend older women who prefer to be called senora and not senorita. 

How to identify when someone prefers either senora or senorita

To be on the safe side, it would be paramount that you stick to separating senora and senorita for older and younger women, respectively. If you find out that an older lady prefers being called senorita, you can call her senorita. 

If you find yourself in an unfamiliar gathering, it could be not easy to know what the older lady or ladies present would like to be called, but then you can try to get clues on what their preferences are. For example;

You could try using both names to get different reactions from the person you are speaking to. In a case where you use a name that the person in question doesn’t prefer, you would quickly know from their reaction.

You could also try to notice how the person addresses the ladies there. That way, you would know which name they would like to be called. An older lady won’t address another older lady as senorita if she doesn’t like to be called senorita. 

There are several Spanish titles of courtesy. Senora and senorita are just of them. You can learn other titles by taking lessons online on italki, including learning common Spanish idioms and the difference between ser vs estar.

Conclusion

Now you know where to use senora or senorita in Spanish! So you are ready to visit Colombia, Mexico, or other Spanish-speaking countries. You may be asking yourself, why learn Spanish? Well, I’ll tell you first that the world is diverse, and you’ll need it someday unless you plan to stay cooped up at home! 

Secondly, Spanish is a beautiful language, and you can also learn to create a remarkable first impression at any time. Well, what are you waiting for? Book a lesson with italki!